Who Gets Christmas? (Part I)

On behalf of The Marks Law Firm, L.L.C. posted in Divorce, Child Custody and Parenting Plan on Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Nothing brings greater joy to children than winter break – no school, no exams and the prospect of parties and presents.  And nothing brings greater frustration to divorced parents than winter break – an annual ritual of disappointing family because of the partial absence of their children.

For most Americans, Christmas represents a blessed occasion to share with loved ones, to gather around the tree, to attend church and to celebrate.  Distant relatives travel far and wide to return home, fighting traffic and weather delays along the way.

But for families operating under a custody plan, Christmas and winter break usually involve sacrifice and compromise.  Is it possible to have a Parenting Plan that makes everybody – parents, children and relatives – happy?

In an ideal situation, divorced parents would accommodate and share, even celebrate together for family and especially the children.  But few divorced parents experience the ideal.

Instead, most divorced parents operate under one of two common schedules.  The first cuts winter break in half with Christmas Eve the point of departure.  One year one parent has the time from the end of school until Christmas Eve, the next year that parent has the time from Christmas Day through return to school after New Year’s.  The second cuts winter break into thirds, with Christmas Eve again the point of departure, but also adding New Year’s Eve as a second point of departure, so that one year a parent has the beginning and end of break, the next year the middle.  In either case, one parent loses out on Christmas Day.

How can we save Christmas for everyone?

One possible solution would be a Parenting Plan that alternates Christmas Eve to noon on Christmas Day with noon on Christmas Day to noon the day after Christmas.  In this way, each parent experiences Christmas every year with their child and may plan church attendance and family celebrations accordingly.  If we do the same with New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, everyone sees everyone on the key holidays during winter break.

So, we fixed Christmas right?  Not exactly.  In the next post, we will explore why.