The idea that divorce might lead to a lengthy separation from one’s children is often one of the reasons that people stay in miserable marriages. They tell themselves that any sacrifice is worthwhile if they get to see their children every day.
They may not stop to think about how their stress levels might affect the children or how their unhealthy dynamic could impact the children or their future romantic relationships. Eventually, even those who focus their choices on their children may realize that they need to change their family situation.
Most people realize that the courts will expect them to share custody of their children, but the exact terms can be drastically different from case to case. Holidays and other special events are often major points of contention for those who are expecting to share custody after a divorce.
There are many solutions to sharing the holidays and other special days
In some cases, there are specific holidays that the children might spend with one parent every year. For example, If the parents have different religious beliefs, they may agree to allow the children to spend specific religious holidays with the parent that celebrates those days. Additionally, certain holidays, like Mother’s Day and Father’s day, would make the most sense for the children to spend with the specific parents celebrated each year.
When it comes to major holidays, birthdays and other special days that both parents would like to spend with their children, there are several approaches that can work. Parents can alternate those special days, with the children spending Christmas at one house and then New Year’s at the other, only to then have the opposite holidays with each parent the next year.
Parents sometimes also agree to split the holidays, meaning that the children spend half of each holiday and birthday with each parent. This arrangement can feel fair to the parents but may be quite disruptive for the children. Parents can also sometimes agree to spend certain holiday celebrations or birthdays together as a family unit because that would be what is best for the children.
Parents can choose the best approach if they can agree on what it is
If parents are able to negotiate a custody arrangement with one another, via direct or attorney-led negotiations or mediation – then they won’t have to worry about what holidays they will spend with their children because they will get to set those terms themselves.
If custody issues end up litigated in court, then a judge will decide how the parents divide holidays. By contrast, recognizing that special days, including birthdays, can put pressure on co-parenting relationships may help parents put together more effective parenting plans and steer away from a litigated resolution to their differences.