The four F’s of the holiday season are food, football, fun, and family.  Unfortunately for those in the middle of a divorce, that last F often leads to a few more unexpected ones.  Make it a point this holiday season not to allow divorce, child custody or time sharing arrangements to ruin the season for you and your family.  The holidays should remain festive for all families, even if the family has been split by divorce.  As long as both parents work together, the child custody or time sharing arrangement stipulated to in the divorce can remain flexible enough to provide quality time with the children for both parents and all holidays.
 The key is for the parents to plan the schedule well in advance.  While always keeping the best interests of the children in the forefront, parents should plan their holiday festivities as best as they can around their time-sharing schedule.  One good idea is to split the day. If the families celebrate multiple holidays, and the holidays fall on separate days, this might not be necessary.  However, if both parents traditionally celebrate Christmas day, you should consider splitting the day in half, with one parent getting Christmas morning and the other getting the evening, or one could take Christmas Eve and the other gets Christmas Day.  Next year, the parents can switch and the plans can alternate between even and odd years.  The same should be applied for New Years Eve and Day.

Since it is important for children to remain close with extended family, both parents should be flexible enough with the schedule as to accommodate visiting out-of-town family. If one parent’s extended family has flown in for the holidays, the other parent can agree to relax time-sharing. While grandparents have no inherent rights regarding time-sharing, if they are in town, families can coordinate with one another regarding holiday time-sharing.

It’s also important to discuss any travel plans each parent might want to set during the children’s Winter break.  It’s also alright for one parent to make travel plans without the children providing that the other parent understands that they will be caring for the children during that time, or other arrangements are made and agreed upon.

If the relationship between you and your ex-spouse is strong enough, you can even choose to celebrate the holidays with one another and the children.  This would be ideal for the children as they will be able to observe or maintain traditions important to them.  Try not to ruin the holidays for them with unnecessary shuffling back and forth or tension between parties. Be flexible and try to have fun.  Keep the F’s to food, football, fun, and family and save the other F’s for another time and place.