The holidays, while going through the ebbs and flows of a divorce, may feel like one is mixing oil and water. While the holidays are considered a time of joy and happiness, a divorce, is well, not the happiest time for (most) people. Plus, when you add in the children into the mix of a divorce, things can become that much more murky, complicated and difficult.
As family law attorneys, we are constantly striving to create solutions that fit each of our unique cases, as each case is as dynamic as each of our clients. Below are some creative custody suggestions for parents to consider as they work out their custody schedules during the holidays:
- Split Christmas: Instead of looking at Christmas as one holiday, consider Christmas as two distinct holidays, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. For example, Parent 1 will have Christmas Eve, defined as December 24 from 9:00 a.m. to December 25 at 9:00 a.m., and Parent 2 will have Christmas Day from December 25 at 9:00 a.m. to December 26 at 9:00 a.m. This way, the children have the ability to celebrate the Christmas holiday with both parents.
- Alternate Christmas and Thanksgiving: If the preference is not to divide a holiday into two separate days, alternate Christmas and Thanksgiving such that, for example, Parent 1 will have the Thanksgiving holiday in even years, and Parent 2 will have the Christmas holiday in even years, and the parents then alternate this schedule in odd years.
- Use Technology: Some parents may not be able to spend time at all with their children during the holidays. Perhaps the parents live in different states, or one parent was granted the opportunity to travel with the children for the holidays. For parents involved in this more unique situation, consider creating a window of time to FaceTime or Skype with your child with the other parent, or make a video or audio recording for your child of a heartfelt message. This communication, though not in person, can help fill the void caused by the absence of one parent during the holidays.
While the new status quo following a divorce may be different, parents should try and embrace this change, and consider alternatives to provide to their children new memories and traditions, as well as predictability and security, during the holiday seasons. Communicate in advance with the other parent, organize your holiday plans with specificity as to times and dates, and welcome the holidays in with an open mind and optimistic perspective.