Holiday Parenting: Who Gets Christmas?
Updated: May 29, 2022
A common concern of newly and long separated parents is how they should split the holidays with their children. For many families with long held traditions, it can be an issue fraught with emotion. Many parents ask me, "what should I do?" My hope is that I can give you some guidance to start your conversations and hopefully resolve them so that everyone is happy.
To start the conversation, I would suggest that you consider which days, events and holidays mean the most to you, and why. It is important that before we start these conversations, we have a good idea of what we think about is important and what is not important. When we start the conversation, I suggest to my clients that we also try to understand what is important to the other parent. Sometimes when the two lists are compare, everything just works out. Other times, there needs to be discussions with the other parent to come to an arrangement.
What options are there for splitting the holidays?
A common method of splitting the holidays is to create a rotating schedule. In year one, spouse 1 may have the first half of Christmas (school break or otherwise), but in year two, they will have the second half. This ensures that no one parent 'always' gets Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, etc. This method provides clarity and an ease of splitting the holidays that can be very helpful. Your exchange date could be Christmas Day at noon, Boxing Day morning, or whatever else works for your family.
A less common method, but still a viable option, is to continue your normal parenting schedule. Some families simply cannot agree to any changes, as it causes too much conflict, requires too much contact, or simply is not feasible for work or life schedules.
Sometimes conversations about splitting the holidays can be difficult and parties are unable to come to an agreement. In that case, going to Court may be an option. Bringing a Chambers Application to specify parenting time during holidays is a common Application, but one that should be brought with sufficient time to be heard by the Court. Chambers Applications regarding parenting schedules require 14 days' notice, but it is very common for the responding party to request and be granted an adjournment.
If you are having difficulties putting in place a holiday parenting schedule, speaking with a lawyer is great way to fully understand the law and how it may apply to your specific facts. Contact me and I can assist you in communicating with your spouse about holiday parenting arrangements, bringing a Court Application or responding to a Court Application.