Just as you now divide your child’s regular weekday and weekend time, you will now need to divide your holiday time with your child. Most typically, this is done using a Holiday Group A/Holiday Group B plan that will rotate each year and divide all of the major holidays. However, some people prefer to design a holiday schedule that better fits their unique needs.
When parents fight over holiday time, they are often thinking of themselves rather than their children. Some parents insist upon seeing their child on every holiday and every special day (like birthdays) for some portion of the day giving little thought to how a child is going to want to spend their holiday or special day. Often times, it is burdensome on the child to have to leave a family event in the middle in order to get to another, especially when there is a distance between the events.
Christmas and Thanksgiving are typically the most hotly contested holidays to be divided. In mediation, I typically encourage people to design a holiday schedule that most closely matches what they exercised as a couple. For example, if a Christmas Eve celebration with one side of the family was always attended, it would be ideal if that tradition can be preserved. Each side of the family is still the child’s family, and the child will still want to see the people that he/she did before the parents separated.
As with all other issues in which children are involved, keeping the focus solidly on their needs is paramount. Preserving as many traditions for the child as possible is ideal. However, when this is not possible, the best solution is typically the standard, rotating Holiday Group A/Holiday Group B schedule. It is a “one size fits all” solution to the problem, but it at least ensures that each party will have significant time with the child on the major holidays.