How to divide parenting time over the holidays

By Jenna Lalani, Estate Planning and Family Lawyer, Vancouver

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…until a parenting-time disagreement.

The holidays can be full of five gold rings, four calling birds, three French hens, two turtle doves, and a partridge in a pear tree but nothing tops a holiday season than a dispute-free week. A consistent and stable parenting schedule is important to have in place. As couples are separating, it is important to think about how to structure your parenting arrangements so that the holiday season is accounted for. If your separation agreement or divorce order does not adequately provide for holiday parenting-time, you will need to put a parenting plan into place to deal with dividing the week.

How do separated or divorced couples divide parenting-time through the holidays?

Some options include:

  • Christmas Eve with one parent and Christmas Day with the other parent
    This allows both parents to share Christmas with the other. Families can make new traditions and have double the gift opening or double the dinner feast.

  • Split Christmas Eve and Christmas Day
    One parent will have parenting time for half of Christmas Eve and the other parent will have the remaining half of Christmas Eve. Similarly, one parent will have parenting time for half of Christmas Day and the other parent will have the remaining half of Christmas Day.

  • Splitting the holiday school break
    Christmas with one parent and New Years with the other parent. An even split to the school holiday break schedule.

  • One big holiday season
    Despite being separated, you are still family. Spending the holidays with your family is an option that many people choose.

  • Alternating schedules every year
    You may use odd and even years to determine a parenting schedule and switch up who gets which holiday or part of the week on which year.

To ensure a silent night this holiday season without any parenting conflict, it would be advisable to ensure a parenting schedule is in place immediately. Putting a parenting plan or a parenting agreement in place will clearly set out each person’s respective parenting time for Christmas, New Years, Easter, Thanksgiving and even school professional development days. This collaborative approach can allow for both parents to agree and be comfortable with the parenting arrangement. However, in instances where both parties cannot agree, a court application may be the alternative to ensuring that each parent has their respective parenting times.

While some families may not celebrate Christmas, the holiday break or any school break can be difficult to divide between parents. Any occasion may give rise to one parent wanting more parenting time, a switch in the schedule, or a rearrangement to the existing arrangement.

Withholding parenting time during the holiday season is a common occurrence. Parents have to keep in mind that the children are being affected when there is a negative and unstable parenting environment. The best interests of the children are paramount, and any agreements made, or any court orders granted will rely on what is best for the children. Parenting arrangements and schedules can be difficult to put into place, but it is always in the best interests of the children to be surrounded by no conflict.

If you are unsure how to navigate parenting time with your ex-spouse, the family lawyers at Crossroads Law can help develop a parenting agreement to deal with all holiday parenting time now and into the future, anywhere in BC or Alberta. Contact us today to set up your free consultation.

The information contained in this blog is not legal advice and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject. The information provided in this blog is for informational purposes only.