Child Custody and Visitation: Getting a Holiday Schedule in Place

Rincker Law Family/Matrimonial Law Leave a Comment

Family relaxing at home. Feet in Christmas socks near fireplace. Winter holiday concept

After deciding the “basic parenting time schedule”, parents should then decide how they want to handle holidays. Holidays include the following:

  • School holidays/ National holidays (e.g., Columbus Day, Memorial Day)

  • Religious holidays (e.g., Easter)

  • Other holidays (e.g., Halloween)

  • Birthdays (parents and children)

  • Father’s Day and Mother’s Day

Parents should make a list of all applicable holidays in which the parents want to celebrate with the child (or have additional parenting time if the child is out of school) and decide what they would like to do for each holiday.  For example, with some holidays, the parents may elect to alternate years while with other holidays, perhaps only one parent will have parenting time (e.g., one parent is Christian and the other parent is Jewish and each observes different religious holidays).

An example holiday schedule may look like this[1]:


Holiday Odd-Numbered Years Even-Numbered Years
Columbus Day Mother Father
Halloween Father from 5pm to 9pm Mother from 5pm to 9pm
Mother’s Birthday

(November 7th)

Mother from 6pm to 8pm (if school night), otherwise, all day/night Mother from 6pm to 8pm (if school night), otherwise, all day/night
Thanksgiving Father Mother
Christmas Eve Mother Father
Christmas Day Father Mother
New Year’s Eve Mother Father
New Year’s Day Mother Father
Martin Luther King (MLK) Day Father Mother
Father’s Birthday (Feb. 10th) Father from 6pm to 8pm (if school night), otherwise, all day/night Father from 6pm to 8pm (if school night), otherwise, all day/night
President’s Day Mother Father
Easter Father Mother
Mother’s Day Mother Mother
Memorial Day Father Mother
Father’s Day Father Father
Fourth of July Mother Father
Labor Day Father Mother

The parents may select to also alternate time with the child(ren) on birthdays so have a schedule when both parents can celebrate with the child(ren) on or around his/her birthday.

[1] This example is with a Mother and a Father.  The authors recognize that there may be two mothers or two fathers in some families. 

This is an excerpt from my new book “Onward and Upward:  Guide for Getting Through New York Divorce & Family Law Issues” available on Amazon, Kindle and iBooks. This is an except from the chapter I wrote with the talented Bonnie Mohr.  I also wrote the Chapter on Mediation, which also discusses mediation on disputes like this.  Not only am I a family law litigator, but I am also a trained mediator for divorce, child custody and visitation disputes, and commercial mediation. The book is chalk full of great advice on a myriad of family law issues ranging from prenups, child custody disputes, and divorce/annulments.  The book’s special sauce is that it has over 48 authors, including many nonlawyer authors, writing on both legal and nonlegal topics.  More info on the book can be found here.

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