If you have not already established a holiday visitation schedule with your child’s other parent, now is the time to start the conversation. Careful planning will help ensure that each side of the family celebrates with your little one and that you fairly divide time on special days and school vacations.

Try these tips to reduce the stress of holiday coparenting.

Put it in writing

When you enter a legal custody agreement, it should include the parenting plan to document custody and visitation schedules. The more detailed your parenting plan, the less room you have for conflict with the other parent. Consider asking for a modification of the plan if it does not already include a schedule for holidays and time off from school.

Explore options

Each family must land on a holiday schedule that works for their needs, preferences and traditions. Some common arrangements include the following:

  • Assign specific holidays to each parent for even and odd years. For example, you get Thanksgiving and the other parent gets Christmas in 2020, and vice versa in 2021.
  • Make allowances for the holidays most important to each parent. Typically, the mother would get Mother’s Day and the father would get Father’s Day each year.
  • Split time on the actual date of the holiday. The child might spend Christmas morning with one parent and Christmas night with the other.
  • Choose an alternate celebration date on years when you are apart from your child on major holidays.

Address travel

If one parent has extended family outside the area, he or she may plan to travel with the child over the holidays. However, the other parent may wish to keep the child close to home. Some custody agreements limit the amount of holiday travel to 24 or 48 hours. Talk about these issues sooner rather than later.

Although coparenting can be especially challenging when the divorce was very emotional, getting along during the holidays will benefit your children. In fact, some families are eventually able to celebrate together.