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Separated Families During the Holidays: What’s the New Normal?



If this is the first year your family is embarking on “new normal” holiday traditions after divorce, it may not feel like, “the most wonderful time of the year.” But, that feeling and sentiment can reappear as new memories and traditions are made within the new family structure.

A holiday schedule can be crafted between parents based on family traditions.  Mother’s side of the family could have a long-standing Christmas Eve tradition. Father’s side of the family could historically have a bigger celebration on Christmas Day. If so, the holiday schedule is an easy resolution: the kids with Mom on Christmas Eve and with Dad on Christmas Day.

Wait! What about Christmas morning and waking up to Santa’s gifts with the kids? If Mom and Dad cannot agree and resolve a holiday schedule, the courts typically will alternate the years Mom and Dad are able to wake up with the children and celebrate Christmas morning. If Mom has Christmas Eve at noon to Christmas Day at noon in 2018, Dad would have Christmas Eve at noon to Christmas Day at noon in 2019, and alternate thereafter.  The noncustodial parent would then have Christmas Day at noon to December 26 at noon.

The remaining holiday break, if the kids are in school, can be equally divided as well.  New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day can work from the same schedule as Christmas, flipping so the parent who did not have Christmas Eve can celebrate New Year’s Eve.

The above is the traditionally ordered schedule if there is not an alternative agreement.  Parents are encouraged to resolve the schedule by considering family traditions, being creative, and restructuring activities as needed so their children can enjoy the holidays with both parents, making new memories while enjoying the comfort of old traditions.

For more useful tips about how to set yourself up for successful co-parenting following divorce, visit our blog or speak with one of Pollock Begg Komar Glasser & Vertz LLC’s experienced custody attorneys.

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