How to Plan Your Visitation Schedule for the Holiday Season

As your child goes back to school, it may be time to start planning for the holiday season and your current or desired visitation schedule. You may already have one in place and just need to make sure that everything goes as expected, including any necessary travel arrangements.

If you are finalizing your divorce and/or are negotiating a parenting plan, figuring out how your child spends the holiday between both sides of the family is an important part. If you already have a visitation schedule in place but are considering filing for a court order modification, getting started with the process as early as possible can make the process smoother. Consulting a reputable family law attorney can help you get a clearer picture of what your options are.

What Holidays Does Your Family Celebrate?

The first thing to determine is what holidays are important in your family. Not all families celebrate the same holidays. You may only be interested in mainstream holidays for personal or practical reasons, or you may want to celebrate religious holidays, which may not necessarily be the same for your co-parent, depending on your particular faith and spiritual practice.

If you and your co-parent have a particular attachment to a holiday but the other does not, this can simplify with whom the child celebrates it as long as your child still spends the appropriate time with their other parent on another occasion.

Common Types of Holiday Schedule Arrangements

Many families choose one of the following arrangements to organize visitation schedules for the holidays: alternate, fixed, or split. If you and your co-parent want to do something different, you should speak with your lawyer to discuss your options.

An alternate arrangement means that your child spends one type of holiday with one parent one year and with their other parent the next one. This allows families to celebrate all holidays together over the course of two years. This requires that all holidays are important to the child and their parents and that you and your co-parent are comfortable not always spending any specific holiday with your child.

Some families decide to split the holiday, so each parent gets to spend part of the day(s) with their child. It can help both parents spend every holiday with their child although it requires that both parents are only a short distance from each other to make this feasible.

Some families choose to have a fixed holiday schedule with the child spending each holiday with the same parent every year. This can be a helpful solution if particular holidays are especially important for only one parent. One parent and their family may be more attached to a religious holiday for example. Or a close relative’s birthday, like one of the child’s grandparents, may have their birthday close to or during a holiday and the other parent has little to no attachment to this holiday.

If co-parents have specific holidays that are more important to them than others, fixed schedules are a great way to organize schedules. For example, if mom celebrates Christmas and dad does not, mom can have the kids on Christmas day. There also may be specific family events or days around the holidays that are fixed for each parent yearly.

How Far Do You and Your Co-Parent Live From Each Other?

The distance between your residence and your co-parent's affects how to organize holiday schedules. If you live close enough, you may decide to split a holiday between both parents and families, like your child celebrating Thanksgiving at your place and the day after at their other parent’s place, or even split lunch and dinner on a specific holiday between both houses.

If you and your co-parent live in different cities or even states, a split schedule may not be possible due to travel time. Having a clear understanding of how much travel and what type is involved, especially when delays can happen due to weather conditions or other factors, can help you plan accordingly.

In certain cases, you or your co-parent may have a tradition of celebrating specific holidays at a relative’s place and this may require travel time even if your co-parent lives close to your residence. If travel is involved and your child wants to spend time with cousins or local friends at their other parent’s or relative’s house, you may want to account for that in your planning.

Prioritize Early Planning and Open Communication

No matter which holidays you and/or your co-parent celebrates, planning early can make a positive difference and avoid unnecessary stress as you get close to the holidays. Negotiating your holiday schedules when establishing the parenting plan during your divorce or legal separation is an important step to simplifying co-parenting.

Confirming ahead of time that everything is in order, including travel arrangements, can make the holiday season more enjoyable for all parties involved. If you need to finalize some details, you should discuss them early. If your child is old enough to express a preference, you should also consider their opinion as you want the holidays to be enjoyable for them.

If negotiating the holiday visitation arrangements with your co-parent is conflictual, you should keep these issues between both of you rather than involving your children. If you are looking to modify the child custody and visitation court orders, doing so ahead of time, and reaching out to your family law attorney can help be prepared when the holiday season comes around.

Crossman & McNamee, LLC Can Help You Negotiate Visitation Schedules in Greene County

Whether you are in the process of negotiating your parenting plan and visitation schedules, including holidays, or are interested in petitioning the court for a modification to your existing order, Crossman 7 McNamee, LLC can assist you. Our compassionate team has helped many families in Greene County and the Greater Miami Valley in Ohio. We are dedicated to finding a solution that meets your needs and parenting goals.

When you trust us with your visitation schedule or other family law matter, you can expect an honest evaluation of your case, a thorough knowledge of state laws, open and regular communication, and creative solutions. We are here to address any questions you may have to help you plan your visitation schedule for the holidays.

Are you looking for compassionate family law counsel in Greene County and the Greater Miami Valley? Contact Crossman & McNamee, LLC today at (937) 468-3796 to schedule a consultation!