The holiday season is upon us and with that comes one of the most stressful times of year as a separating or divorcing parent. When you first had your children you probably never expected to be spending holidays apart from them. But now, more likely than not, you will need to split the holidays in some manner with the other parent. What is the best way to split Thanksgiving Day, Christmas, Hanukkah, or another holiday with the other parent?
In New York, when making holiday schedules for children of separating or divorcing parents, there are certain norms that apply to most custody cases. As a general rule, you should expect to divide the holidays equally. Even if you are the primary custodial parent (meaning you have more than 50% of the parenting time), anticipate that the other parent will have an equal share of holidays. The equal division can be accomplished in different ways. Sometimes the holiday itself is split in half. For example, one parent could have the first half of Thanksgiving Day and the other parent could have the second. Other people prefer to alternate. One parent will have Thanksgiving Day in even years and the other will have the same holiday in odd years. Whichever way you and the other parent choose to schedule the holidays, the allocation should work out pretty evenly in the end.
Aside from the holidays themselves, once your children are school-aged the vacations are divided as well. As with the holidays, vacations typically are allocated equally by dividing or alternating. In New York, children who attend private school tend to have longer vacation periods. Vacations in December and March can be more than two weeks. As such, a lot of parents prefer to divide the vacations rather than alternate.
Of course, there always are exceptions to the rule. There may be circumstances in your case that call for doing something other than an equal division.
No matter how stressful figuring out the holiday and vacation schedule as a separated parent is for you, do not lose sight of the fact that it probably is more stressful for your children. If you are angry at your spouse, take a step back and try to amicably set a holiday schedule. Withholding equal holiday time punishes not only the other parent but also the child, who likely will be feeling sad about not getting to see both parents on the holidays.
Greenblatt Law LLC is well-versed in figuring out parenting schedules. Contact us if you need help.