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You and your children’s other parent may have a parenting time schedule that works well for you most of the year. When you add the holidays into the mix, however, keeping everything together can be a lot more challenging. In order to make the most of this holiday season, it’s important to have a custody arrangement that works for you and your children, and an experienced Aurora, Colorado, child custody attorney can help you with that. 


The Holidays Are Here

If you are a co-parent, you are definitely feeling the holiday crunch, and you may have lingering questions about how you are going to make it all work. Fortunately, you are not alone on this one. There are a variety of holiday schedules that have become popular over the years for their ability to help parents like you handle the season smoothly while continuing to make the magic happen for their children and take some of the strain off themselves in the process. One of them may be just what you’re looking for. 


Splitting Things Up 

Custody arrangements during the holidays might depend on each parent’s preferences and traditions. Some families celebrate the eve of the winter holidays, and some celebrate the days themselves. If one of you traditionally celebrates the night before and the other celebrates the day of the holiday in question, dividing things up between you accordingly can be an easy fix. 


Another means of splitting up the festivities is one of you having the kids in the morning and the other having them in the afternoon of the holiday you’re celebrating. The downside of this approach is that young children are likely to become more and more exhausted as the day progresses, which can put additional pressure on the parent with the afternoon slot. 


Your Turn and My Turn 

Another common approach to the holidays – and one that often generates the least amount of stress – is taking turns. This usually involves one parent having the kids for Thanksgiving while the other parent has them for the winter holiday one year and then alternating the lineup for the next year. This takes the concern of dividing up the holiday itself out of the equation, which makes things easier on the children and parents alike – and ensures that you’re able to make the most of the holiday you do celebrate together. The downside for everyone involved, however, is that you’ll only spend every other holiday together. 


Consider Joining Forces

While this option – for obvious reasons – is not for every divorced couple, it can work well for others. If you and your ex get along well or are able to effectively sideline your animosity without lingering tension, spending holidays together is a real gift for your children – who crave family time with both of you. There are considerations, however, that need to be factored in, including:


  • You don’t want to confuse your children or give them false hopes that you are getting back together.
  • If either of you has remarried or is in a serious relationship, it’s important to factor this other person into the mix. 


Only you know your limits. If coming together with your ex for the holidays feels like a bridge too far, respecting your instincts is well advised.


Divide According to Your Priorities

The fact is that you and your children’s other parent may have vastly different priorities when it comes to the holiday season. Traditional celebrations are not everyone’s thing, and if one of you is less invested in celebrating a specific holiday, gifting the day to the other parent is a great way to facilitate cooperation between you, which can prove immensely beneficial in the long run. 


Celebrate on a Different Day

Many families create their own traditions and celebrate holidays on alternate dates. If you can’t be together with your children on the holiday itself, no one can stop you from celebrating with gusto on a day of your choosing. For example, New Year’s Eve can be a great stand-in for the holiday you and your children celebrate, and it has holiday magic all its own.


Do What Works for You

You and your ex have a unique relationship – whatever it happens to look like – and you are both motivated by your love for your children. If you let this guide you, you may land on a unique arrangement that’s perfect for your family. While cookie-cutter plans help many divorced parents find balance during the holidays, it’s also perfectly acceptable to go your own way. 


The Importance of Having a Plan

What you do not want to do is ignore the issue and fail to make a plan, which can leave you all alone for the holidays and sets the stage for stressful arguments that could have been avoided. If you have holiday terms built into your parenting time schedule, you won’t have to give the matter additional thought, which frees you up to truly enjoy the holidays. If your holiday schedule is still up in the air, some tips for getting the job done include:


  • Schedule a time to talk about your holiday plans with your ex when you both have the bandwidth to do so. Bringing the issue up as an afterthought generally isn’t a great approach.
  • Bring your holiday calendar to the table. If you don’t know what is going on when, it’s difficult to make mutually acceptable arrangements. 
  • Approach the topic with an open mind. You might be surprised by what you’re able to negotiate.


Important Considerations

It is important to understand that, when it comes to the holidays, your parenting plan need not incorporate only one approach. For example, you may each claim a specific holiday that is always yours while you alternate another. Knowing your own priorities and traditions and keeping in mind how important it is for your children to celebrate with both of you each year helps to put you in the right frame of mind to create a holiday schedule that works for you. And if you already have court orders regarding the holidays that have proved less than desirable, it may be time for a modification.


The Traditions that Matter to You

Consider your traditions when it comes to the winter holidays and determine which ones are important to you. You may find that some of your traditions are more like habits and don’t have a lot of meaning for you, while there are others you can’t imagine giving up. It’s also important to consider how significant continuity is to your children – especially in the wake of a transition as serious as divorce. Focusing on what matters the most to you and your children can help pave the way toward a holiday schedule that works for you. The time you put into preserving meaningful traditions that you enjoy together with your children as a family is time well spent. 


Travel Plans

The matter of parenting plans during the winter holidays is difficult enough if you and your ex live in the same area, but if you are spread out, things become that much more challenging. If travel needs to be factored into your plans, all of the following must be taken into careful consideration:


  • The cost of the travel
  • The amount of time involved in the travel
  • If your children or the distant parent will be doing the traveling
  • Who will accompany the children if they’re doing the traveling
  • The effects of bad weather on holiday travel
  • The matter of travel delays during the holidays


There is no getting around the fact that travel makes the holidays that much more hectic, which makes carefully planning ahead that much more important. 


The Court’s Position

It is important to know that when Colorado courts make parenting time determinations in relation to the holidays or any other time, they always prioritize the best interests of the children. Further, their starting position is that children are better off when they are allowed to spend time with both parents. 


As such – and barring any extenuating reason for ruling otherwise – you can expect the court to include orders that afford both you and your ex time with your kids over the holidays. If you’re able to reach an agreement between yourselves on the matter, you’ll be ahead of the game and will be far more likely to score a schedule that reflects your family’s priorities and traditions. 


Turn to an Experienced Aurora, CO, Child Custody Attorney for the Help You Need Today

Chris Little is a trusted Aurora child custody attorney at CNL Law Firm, PLLC, who understands the significance of your holiday parenting time schedule and has the experience, drive, and keen negotiation skills to help you obtain a schedule that honors you and your children’s best interests. Our trusted legal team is standing by to help, so please don’t wait to reach out and contact or call us at (720) 370-2171 for more information about what we can do for you today.


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