How can parents in a divorce develop a fair holiday schedule?

With the holidays fast approaching, families in New Mexico are rushing to get their plans all in order. While this iconic time of year often means spending time with family, divorce parents are often left spending the holidays in a much different way. The holiday schedule is often dictated by a child custody order, and while some parents may not entirely agree with it, others are able to establish a healthy co-parenting relationship and get through the holidays without many, if any, disputes. There are a few steps divorced parents could take to help ensure a joyful holiday experience.

First, the custody plan should be reviewed ahead of time. This will ensure that the parents understand how the holidays will be celebrated this year. This also helps avoid any surprises and conflict. In addition, it also provides them with an adequate amount of time to request any changes to accommodate travel, vacation and time with extended family members. Parents should try to work out any issues or kinks they have in their holiday schedule on their own first before elevating it to a court issue for a judge to resolve.

Next, parents should discuss the arrangements during the holiday with their children. This not only does ensure that they understand where they will be and when, but also gives them an opportunity to talk about activities they would like to do. This helps keep the focus on positive details of their holiday schedule and allows for parents to understand how to make the time more enjoyable for everyone involved.

Finally, divorced parents should make the most out of their parenting time. They should be less focused on celebrating on the actual date and be more willing and comfortable with celebrating a holiday a day sooner or day later than the date on a calendar. This also provides them with an opportunity to start new traditions, which could end up benefiting everyone involved.

While some divorce parents are able to address child custody issues amicably and fairly, others may not be able to work through their issues so easily. Whether they seek to establish, enforce or modify a child custody order, parents should understand their rights and options so they can properly address the issue and keep the best interest of the child in mind.

Source:, “Child custody and the holidays: Do’s and Don’ts,” Andrew D. Taylor, Esquire, Nov. 27, 2013

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