Top 3 Tips for Tackling the Holidays While Co-Parenting

October 17, 2023 | By Tara Burns

With Halloween, Thanksgiving, and the winter holidays right around the corner, many people are preparing for the fun of the holiday season. For parents involved in a custody action, the below tips will help to ensure that the holidays run smoothly and eliminate unnecessary holiday stress.

The most important parts of tackling the holidays while co-parenting are planning, flexibility, and communication.

1. Planning

With respect to planning, taking a long-term view of the situation can be helpful in creating a schedule that is balanced and allows the children to enjoy holiday time with both parents over the course of their childhood. For example, parents should work together to rotate holiday time within the course of a year (one parent having the Thursday of Thanksgiving and the other having Halloween) and rotating that time across years (one parent having the 4th of July in even years and the other parent having it in odd years). Of course, this requires co-parents to put extra thought into coordinating their custodial holiday time with important family plans or milestones so as to avoid last-minute changes or conflicts with their co-parent. The more planning that goes into a holiday schedule, the easier the holidays become for the family.

2. Flexibility

Flexibility is also key to holidays in custody cases. One key example is expanding the definition of the holiday. For example, viewing Thanksgiving not merely as the Thursday holiday, but including all of the time that the children have off from school. The Thanksgiving holiday can encompass two custodial periods- one from the end of the school day on the Wednesday preceding Thanksgiving until Friday morning and the other from Friday morning until the children return to school. This type of flexible thinking maximizes the holiday time that the children spend with both parents and helps to avoid the mentality that one parent is missing out on creating special memories with the children in that given year.

3. Communication

Finally, communication between the parents is crucial for a stress-free holiday season. A key driver of conflict is last-minute requests or demands. The more frequently parents communicate, the easier it is to accommodate everything that comes with the holidays. It is, however, also important to have a custody agreement that lays out a plan for the holidays. That way, if communication breaks down and parents can’t agree, there’s a clear and easy answer on how holiday time should be handled.

If you are involved in a custody action, a conversation with an attorney can be helpful in navigating the process.

The information contained in this publication should not be construed as legal advice, is not a substitute for legal counsel, and should not be relied on as such. For legal advice or answers to specific questions, please contact one of our attorneys.

About the Authors

Tara Burns


Tara Burns is an attorney in Obermayer’s Family Law Department. Tara conducts legal research and drafts memoranda on her findings, aids clients and attorneys with the discovery process, prepares pleadings, motions, discovery...

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