A father wearing a holiday hat with reindeer antlers watching his daughter run around playing. She is also wearing reindeer ears.

Basics of Holiday Custody

How the Holidays Work with Parenting Plans

With the holiday season drawing ever closer and the festivities beginning to ramp up, parents who have a custody agreement in place or are preparing to work through a parenting plan should be aware of the ways that the holidays can work within those agreements. While this time of year can be difficult for parents who want to spend as much time with their children as possible, there are, fortunately, ways to ensure that parents get to spend an equal amount of time with their children during the holiday season.

From alternating holidays to creating your own agreements, here are some of the basic points of parenting plans to get through the holiday season.

Alternating Holidays Annually

One of the key options for parents regarding holiday custody is alternating holidays annually between each other. This tends to allow for both parents to have an equal amount of time with their children as well as an equal amount of holidays annually.

Typically this works by splitting holidays between parents and then alternating them every year. For example, one parent may have the child for Thanksgiving, Easter, and another holiday in even-numbered years while the other parent is given Christmas and New Year’s Day. During the next year, an odd-numbered year, the parents switch holidays, allowing both of them to have the child for a holiday over a two-year period.

While no arrangement is perfect, this allows for both parents to celebrate significant holidays with their child.

Splitting Holidays

Another common arrangement for certain holidays is for the parents to split the amount of time they have a child over a certain period of time. This type of arrangement tends to work better when the holiday falls over a school break, such as Christmas break or summer break.

For example, say that two parents are deciding what to do about the Christmas break and the holidays that take place within that time span (Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day). If they decided to split that time, then one parent could have the child beginning at 6:00 pm on the day that school gets out for that break and have the child in their possession until Christmas Eve at 8:00 pm. After this time, the other parent has the child in their possession until the day that school resumes.

Such an arrangement allows for each parent to spend an equal amount of break time with their child.

Creative Solutions

Parents can also craft their own unique schedules in their parenting plans and work out holidays as they see fit (should they agree to the schedule, of course). For example, some parents go so far as to schedule a holiday twice within a period of time. One parent could celebrate a holiday with their child on the actual day while the other parent creates their own celebration of that holiday for the day before or the day after.

Some parents will go so far as to pick and choose their holidays with the child and agree to stick to that schedule. In addition, they may choose to ensure that the child will spend specific days with a parent, such as Mother’s Day with the child’s mother.

Working Through Parenting Plans with a Family Law Attorney

Parenting plans can be difficult to work through at times, and even after they are put in place, visitation issues may still arise from time to time. If you have a child custody issue that you need help with, it’s important to consult with a family law attorney who can keep you informed of what the law is and guide you on how to resolve your issue.

At Pacific Cascade Family Law, we understand how important it is for a parent to spend time with their child, especially on meaningful days like holidays. Our team is prepared to help you find a solution that meets both your needs and the needs of your child.


To learn more or to schedule a consultation, call us at (888) 981-9511 or visit us online.

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