Holiday Custody Arrangements

Detailed holiday arrangements are key to a thorough custody schedule.

The time you spend creating a comprehensive holiday schedule will save you a lot of stress in the future. You won't have to worry about making last-minute arrangements because you will have a concrete schedule, in writing, to refer to.

You can hire a legal professional to help you make a schedule, or you can make one on your own or with the other parent using the following steps.

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Step 1: Choose holidays for your schedule

Customize your schedule with the holidays you want to include.

Start with federal holidays:

  • New Year's Day (January 1st)
  • Martin Luther King Jr.'s Birthday (the third Monday in January)
  • Presidents' Day (Washington's Birthday, the third Monday in February)
  • Memorial Day (the last Monday in May)
  • Independence Day (July 4th)
  • Labor Day (the first Monday in September)
  • Columbus Day (the second Monday in October)
  • Veteran's Day (November 11th)
  • Thanksgiving Day (the fourth Thursday in November)
  • Christmas Day (December 25th)

Next, add state holidays, which often come with a three-day weekend. These include Pioneer Day in Utah (July 24th) and Nevada's Nevada Day on the last Friday of October.

Include religious holidays celebrated by either parent, such as:

Account for special occasions like birthdays, family reunions and school holidays. Check your school district's calendar for any half days or school events you should plan for. You can address less predictable school events generally.

Step 2: Divide holidays in your schedule

Your holiday arrangement should be in the child's best interest and fair to both parents. There are many ways to divide the holidays between parents.

Assign specific holidays to each parent

You can assign certain holidays and special occasions based on what each parent celebrates.

It makes sense for Mom to have Mother's Day and Dad to have Father's Day, and for each to see the child on their respective birthdays.

Then there are religious holidays. If you have different faiths, you could simply assign the holiday to the parent who practices the religion celebrating the holiday.

Also consider family traditions. If the other parent's family has a large celebration for the Fourth of July, you might allow the kids to spend the day there every year.

Split holidays

When you both observe a holiday, you might want to split the day so your child can spend it with each of you. For example, Mom could have the kids from morning to afternoon, and Dad could have them from afternoon to evening.

Alternatively, you could spread holiday celebrations out over multiple days. Labor Day is on a Monday, but if you treat the preceding days as part of the holiday, each parent could get a couple days to celebrate with the family.

Alternate holidays

Another option is to simply alternate holidays.

Most commonly, one parent gets custody on a particular holiday in even-numbered years, while the other gets custody in odd-numbered years.

Alternatively, you can alternate holidays within a year. One parent gets this holiday, the other parent gets the next, and so on.

Step 3: Define the start and end time of each holiday

After you decide which holidays to include and how to divide them, you need to set when each one begins and ends. This will help you avoid conflict and allow you to count holidays toward parenting time.

State each start and end time specifically. For example, "Halloween begins at 4 p.m. on October 31 and ends at 7 p.m. the same night."

Step 4: Add stipulations

Now, add any details necessary to complete your holidays arrangements. Think about transportation and whether you want to set any special rules for an occasion — for instance, how late the child can stay up or what kind of Halloween costumes they can wear.

The easiest way to make holiday custody arrangements

There's a lot to think about when you build a holiday schedule. You'll want it to address weekend and midweek holidays, reflect special occasions unique to your family (like birthdays) and work for years to come.

The Custody X Change app makes it easy. Just open your Custody X Change calendar and follow our steps to make a holiday schedule.

To make a custody schedule quickly and affordably, turn to Custody X Change. You'll get written and visual versions that meet your family's needs, as well as court standards.

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Explore examples of common schedules

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