Making a Holiday Custody Schedule That Works

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Making a Holiday Custody Schedule That Works

There are many factors you need to consider when agreeing to a holiday custody schedule with your spouse. It’s not as simple as just dividing everything in half. Our skilled New Jersey family lawyers work to ensure every holiday your family celebrates is considered and the schedule is fair. 

Schedules need to take into account the age of the child, the distance between a spouse and an ex-spouse, work schedule, and other issues. Holiday child visitation schedules that last usually require some give and take on both sides. There should be a procedure in place for resolving disputes so you don’t have to file a complaint with a judge just before the holiday starts.

Which holidays do you need to make part of the holiday child visitation schedule?

Some holidays are national. This means that people usually have a day off from work to celebrate the holiday. Some holidays are religious. There are holidays such as birthdays that are personal to the family members. New Jersey holiday custody schedules should consider these holidays:

National holidays:

  •       New Year’s Eve. December 31.
  •       New Year’s Day. January 1.
  •       Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The 3rd Monday in January
  •       Presidents’ Day (Washington and Lincoln) which are observed on the 3rd Monday in February.
  •       Memorial Day. Last Monday in May.
  •       Labor Day. First Sunday in September.
  •       Thanksgiving. Fourth Thursday in November
  •       Independence Day. July 4th
  •       Halloween. October 31.

Some families may also observe Veterans Day and Columbus Day.

Many federal holidays are now observed on a Monday.

Personal holidays include:

  •       Mother’s Day. The 2nd Sunday in May.
  •       Father’s Day. The 2nd Sunday in June.
  •       The birthdays of each parent and each child.

Religious holidays include:

These holidays vary depending on the religion of the child and parents. Common religious holidays include

  •       Easter
  •       Passover
  •       Yom Kippur
  •       Christmas Eve.
  •       Christmas Day.

Other religions and cultures have their own holidays to discuss when creating a holiday visitation schedule.

Additional consideration may be given to spring break and winter break vacations. Holiday custody schedules should also consider other days when your child may be home from school.

What methods are used to share or divide holiday time?

With the help of seasoned family lawyers, most parents reach an agreement as to when their children will spend holiday time with each parent and how the transfer of the children will occur. Holiday visitation for non-custodial parents is especially difficult. Some of the factors we use to help reach these agreements include:

  •       Alternating holidays. Essentially, except for holidays like birthdays, the holiday time is determined by the calendar. You have your child on the first holiday, your ex-spouse gets the next holiday, and so on. The holiday custody schedule flips each year so that you always observe each holiday with your child once every two years.
  •       Dividing the holiday in half. This idea divides each day in half so that each parent has a comparable or equal amount of time with each child – every holiday in the year. For example, you may celebrate a child’s birthday from 8 am to 2 pm and your ex-spouse may celebrate the birthday from 2 pm to 8 pm. This arrangement only makes sense if both parents live close to each other.
  •       Celebrating a holiday twice. Your child may celebrate Thanksgiving with you on Thursday and your ex-spouse on Friday.

Many holiday custody schedule agreements use a combination of these. Also, some holidays may just apply to one spouse or the other. For example, your child will likely spend your birthday with you and your ex’s birthday with your ex.

Some additional considerations for holiday schedules for divorced parents

Some holidays need special attention. Both parents will want to spend part of their child’s birthday with that child on the same day. Normally, the hours will be split. Alternatively, if the child is having a birthday party, both parents may want to put their difficulties aside to share time with their child at the party.

Other adjustments to the holiday custody schedule may be needed based on these factors:

  •       Some holidays have 3-day weekends.
  •       Often Thanksgiving and Christmas are split. For example, a child may spend Christmas Eve and Christmas morning with one parent and Christmas Day with the other parent.

It usually helps to work with holiday custody schedule software to help ensure all the dates and factors are considered. As much as possible, parents should try to celebrate the holidays they did with their children prior to the divorce. Children should understand the schedules too so they know which parent they’ll be with during each holiday. There should be some discussion in the agreement about what happens if a parent can’t spend time with their child during a holiday due to illness or the need to work during the holiday.

At DeTorres & DeGeorge Family Law, our seasoned family lawyers have negotiated many holiday custody schedules. We understand which schedules work and which ones don’t. To discuss your holiday visitation schedule or any other holiday custody schedule issue, call our lawyers at 908-691-2104 or use our contact form to schedule an appointment. We’re located in Clinton and Morristown.

Rosanne S. DeTorres
Ms. DeTorres is the managing partner and co-founder of DeTorres & DeGeorge Family Law. She is also only one of 150 attorneys in the State of NJ that is certified by the NJ Supreme Court as a Matrimonial Law Attorney. Ms. DeTorres graduated...
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