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Building New Holiday Traditions

You're getting a divorce and now you have to decide who's going to have the kids for Christmas, Thanksgiving, New Years, Memorial Day, Summer Vacation, Fourth of July, Labor Day, birthdays, Mom and Dad's birthdays, Mother's Day, Father's Day, etc.

The divorce process is going to necessitate both parents making sacrifices and becoming creative about ways to build new holiday traditions.

Family Courts require both parents to focus their attention on the best interests of the children. Fighting over who "wins" leaves no victors, only victims.

Further, the courts are going to do everything possible to ensure the children have as much time as possible with both parents.

The most common solution to the holiday dilemma is to alternate holidays spent with the children. For instance, if Mom has the kids for Christmas Eve in even-numbered years, then Dad has them for Christmas morning. In odd-numbered years, the routine switches. Likewise, if Dad is with the children on Memorial Day, they are with Mom on Labor Day, and so forth. Though this sounds equitable, it is not very creative.

A new concept gaining acceptance across the country is for parents to share the holidays. This assumes several factors are true, including (a) that the parents are able to communicate and cooperate and (b) that both parents live in the same metropolitan area.

How families have historically handled holidays often influences the Court. If Dad's family traditionally eats Thanksgiving dinner early in the afternoon and Mom's family usually dines in the evening, then the solution is simple. The kids are with Dad until mid-afternoon when Mom picks them up or Dad delivers them and they spend the rest of the day with Mom and her family.

The Christmas holiday can also be successfully divided. Since Christmas usually falls in the middle of Winter Break, the children can be with one parent from the beginning of Break until very late on Christmas Eve. They then go to the other parent's home to spend the night so they can wake up there on Christmas morning and spend the rest of the Break with that parent.

The same pattern of sharing time can be applied to the observance of Jewish or other religious holidays. For example, if one parent has the children for Erev Rosh Hashanah, then the other parent has them for Rosh Hashanah day. Chanukah is another long holiday which can be divided in the same manner as Christmas.

Creative lawyers are now suggesting their clients establish new traditions with their children. If Mom has the kids for Thanksgiving, Dad might start a custom of taking them shopping in Cincinnati, to the zoo or on a trip on the day after Thanksgiving.

Creating new family traditions is possible and the parents' alternatives can be just as attractive as the traditional holiday.

The advantages of sharing holidays are significant. The children learn that, even though Mom and Dad aren't together anymore, there can still be a spirit of cooperation and compromise. The children are allowed to develop their own special memories of spending holiday time with their parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends without the feeling that they have totally "abandoned" one parent.

Regardless, children should never be put in the middle and forced to choose one parent over the other.

The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers at www.aaml.org has other creative information to offer about children and divorce.

You are invited to call us today if we can help you resolve Family Law issues with respect to your children and your parenting time.


Return to our main Custody & Visitation page to learn more about child custody, visitation and parenting schedules