Even if the marriage is ending on amicable terms, divorcing parents must resolve numerous challenges before starting their independent futures. Negotiations must be reached regarding financial changes such as support and property division as well as issues centering on the children such as custody and parenting time. When drafting the parenting plan, however, there are some common mistakes that can be avoided.
One crucial element of the parenting plan is how the holiday schedule is handled. It is wise for the divorcing parents to explore numerous options and layer various contingencies so unexpected challenges can be avoided. In general, parents have several options to consider, including:
- Every other year: It is not uncommon for the parents to assign holidays according to odd or even years. For example, the Christmases on odd-numbered years will be spent with dad. In this way, parents will not miss any major holiday more than one year in a row.
- Split each holiday: This might be an option when the parents live in close proximity to each other. Many parents decide to split the holiday in half, electing to have the child spend part of the day with one parent and the rest of the day with the other. This arrangement, however, requires coordination and advance planning.
- Celebrate the holiday twice: For many parents, the option to simply celebrate the holiday twice might be the best choice. One parent, for example, can celebrate Christmas with the children on December 18th and the other parent can celebrate on the 25th. This schedule can rotate every other year, so it is fair for everyone involved.
- Assigning certain holidays: As different holidays might hold different importance for each individual, the best option might be to assign various holidays to the parents. For example, Thanksgiving is always spent with dad and Christmas is always spent with mom.
Parents should consider which option works best for their unique schedules and goals. It is also wise to determine a back-up plan for use when unexpected challenges occur. Divorce can be an emotionally and financially turbulent time and it is important to work with an experienced attorney from start to finish.