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Splitting Child Custody During the Holidays

Thanksgiving is like a test run for the rest of the season’s holidays for divorced families. There is always the awkward questions of which family the children will spend which holidays with. Divorce creates a messy family life, but with simple planning and cooperation this can be tidied up in a cinch. Each family is different, and so should each family’s holiday custody schedule.

Different Strokes

If you’re having a hard time figuring out your child’s holiday schedule, then here are a few ways it can be done. But again, remember a schedule that works for one family may not work for another; so feel free to alter these schedule examples to fit your needs.

Annual Alternating: The most common schedule is rotating holidays with the child. So one year one parent will have the child on Thanksgiving, and the next year the other parent will have the child on Thanksgiving. This option allows for a more relaxed holiday for both you and your child because there is no time table to be mindful of. The downside is the absence of one of the parents will be a little distressing the first few times for both the absent parent and the child.

Halfsies: Another option is to equally split the holiday with the child. For example, the child would spend the first half of the day with one parent and their family, and then the other half of the day would be spent with the other parent and their family. In doing this, you solve the issue of the parents and child missing the other’s company. However, for this to work the parents and families must live in fairly close proximity. Also, the day would be a bit more rushed and stressful because you’ll have the keep track of time.

Rescheduling the Holidays: If neither of the above options suite your needs, try celebrating the holidays at another time. In this scenario the child would celebrate with one parent and their family on the actual holiday, and then celebrate at a later (or earlier) time with the other parent and their family. This route avoids confusion, time tables, and stressful drop offs all together. But this also means choosing which family will enjoy the child’s presence on the holiday. This would work best if one parent’s holiday plans are already on a day other than the holiday, or if the parents live in different cities.

One Big, Happy Family: This is by far the most unconventional, high risk, high reward option, which is why we saved it for last. If your ex and their family are cordial with you and your family, you could try continuing to celebrate as one big, happy family. The child would feel completely secure within their family, in spite of the divorce; but this means the families would have to be on good terms. Before you try this option have frequent talks about the plans with both families. Maybe have a test run without the child to make sure there will be no fireworks during the holidays; fireworks are only pretty from afar.

There are a few factors to consider when devising a holiday schedule, like the child’s desires, the families’ wishes, the stress factor of the day, where everyone lives, and so much more. But the most important factor is what would make your child’s holidays fun, comfortable, and stress-free. Planning ahead is the key to happy holiday for any divorced family. Hope your Thanksgiving is stress free and pleasant!

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