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Should your custody agreement consider the holidays?

When couples with children finalize a divorce in New York, a formal parenting plan will spell out each party’s parental rights and responsibilities. In the process of negotiating the custody and visitation elements of a parenting plan, it is important to resolve how children will spend their holidays.

Planning ahead eliminates unnecessary uncertainty. Arriving at a mutual agreement on holidays can be beneficial for both parents and children.

The default may not be practical

If parents share parenting time fairly equally, a judge may decide that the fairest approach is alternating holidays. This type of default schedule alternates holidays rather than years. Then, it switches annually so that children do not always spend the same holidays with the same parent. Logistically, it may be hard to keep up with this type of arrangement. One modification can throw the rest of the year off track or lead to disagreements.

Dividing specific holidays may be preferable

Assigning certain celebrations to one parent may have some advantages when parents’ families treat holidays differently. For example, one side of a child’s extended family may have a big celebration while the other side does not gather at all. Having children spend that holiday with the side that gathers to celebrate supports their relationships with extended family members.

Ultimately, parents may be able to take some stress out of the holidays after a divorce by resolving parenting time in advance. Establishing a set schedule creates predictability. Also, it allows children to avoid the awkward position of feeling as though they must choose between parents during the holidays.