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Tips for sharing vacations and holidays

Lee County schools kick off their spring breaks this week. As a divorced or separated parent, you hopefully already incorporated how to divide vacations and holidays into your parenting plan. For those still working through child custody, however, dividing up vacations can become a major hurdle.

Here are some suggestions on how to effectively split up your family's vacations and holidays post-separation:

  • Trade off important holidays. Some parents choose to trade off where the kids spend important holidays like Christmas, Easter, July 4th or Thanksgiving. That means if you had your kids for Christmas, your ex-partner will have them for Easter. Next year, you swap.
  • Consider odd-even years. Similar to the above, each parent gets known vacations depending on the year. Even years, the kids spend spring break with you, odd years with their other parent.
  • Plan to split your kids' vacation time. If alternating holidays or vacations doesn't sound appealing, you could plan to split the time with your ex. The key here is to plan ahead. Ensure all family members, including the kids, are on the same page about the proposed schedule, which could change every year. Doing this will minimize confusion, stress and the possibility of family disputes.
  • Determine where children spend certain vacations each year. This solution usually helps parents who live further apart and may not be able to split parenting time week to week. This effectively sets up a plan similar to the olden days, where one parent has primary childcare responsibilities during the school year and the other has them during the summer and school vacations.

Other important dates you should account for when negotiating a parenting plan are family-centric holidays. This includes things like birthdays, Mother's Day, Father's Day, family reunions, family weddings or funerals, and three-day weekends like Memorial Day weekend or Labor Day weekend.

It's also good to talk about how you will handle unanticipated vacation plans, like if someone wishes to take the kids on a cruise or abroad in the future. Ideally, you would schedule these types of super-vacations for the time when you would normally have your children. However, no one can predict the future, and you may come across a great opportunity that overlaps your current parenting plan.

Making plans now isn't always easy

Of course, all of these suggestions work best if you and your partner can actually cooperate. Divorce and family break-ups, however, don't always lend themselves to amicable resolutions.

For this reason, many courts encourage parents to try resolving their differences through mediation, which allows you to work with a neutral mediator and your own lawyer (if desired) on a compromise. Once the divorce is finalized, you could also work with a parenting coordinator, who acts in a similar capacity to help parents resolve disagreements following divorce. While these options work for many families, the most conflicted cases will likely require a decision from a judge.

Keep in mind that in all scenarios, the law seeks to ensure all agreements regarding parental timesharing protect the best interests of your children. Your lawyer will work hard to ensure your agreement or court order aligns with this presumption as well as your unique needs.

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