Believe it or not, the holiday season is here. This can be the best time of year for taking a break from the usual things in life, and spending time with family and friends. The holidays can be really great, with the stretch between Thanksgiving and the New Year filled with happiness and fun and lots of good food. But for parents with shared custody, the holidays are often filled with frustration and anxiety with disputes over custody schedules.

Having a plan is the first step, and that includes knowing your rights and what the law is when it comes to holiday parenting time. There are good ways to deal with the impending holiday madness. There are several strategies you can use to get what you want out of the holidays and time with your kids this year if you are a Dad with a parenting time schedule.


You need to be sure that you know exactly what the schedule is, and how it is interpreted. First of all, this means reading and being aware of your custody and parenting time order. When is your parenting time and what days and times do you have? That’s the starting point. Next, you need to look at what the holiday parenting time, because holidays and vacation parenting time take precedence over a regular rotating parenting time schedule. For example, if you have every other weekend for parenting time, but then the holiday schedule says that you get the second half of Christmas break, you get that Christmas break whether it’s normally your weekend or not.

So you will want to know exactly what the parenting time says, and what you think it means. This will help you avoid trouble, and if there is any ambiguity, you should be ready to discuss this ahead of time with the mother of your children.


The best plan is to be aware of any potential problems before they come up. If there is any confusion in the schedule, be sure you clear it up before the holidays are here. Discuss any issues you need to with your ex-wife or ex-girlfriend ahead of time. If that doesn’t work or isn’t possible, have a family law attorney review your parenting time schedule with you. If needed, you can file a motion with the court and get a court date before the holidays to get a decision from the court if needed.

Clear and timely communication is important, whether you are getting along with the mother of your children or not. IF you can both agree on the holiday schedule before it happens, that is best. Start the discussion as early as possible. Don’t wait until the last minute. It’s much easier to arrange or rearrange plans well in advance than to scramble the week before. The holidays and special events are important to you and to your children, so you want to do everything you can to be sure they go as planned.

Your children are important to you, and you want to make the most out of the time you have with them. Do everything in your control to know what the schedule is and what the plans are. It’s worth it to be flexible when possible and to make plans where you can as well. There’s a saying that prior planning prevents poor performance, and that applies here. To the extent you can fully understand the details of the holiday parenting time schedule ahead of time, the better off everything will go for you.