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Holiday Parenting Plans: defining and dividing Thanksgiving

Last week, we discussed the importance of having a detailed holiday parenting plan, when you are going through a divorce or a child custody matter. This week, we discuss how different families divide, share, and define Thanksgiving as a holiday in their parenting plans.

There are two key components to addressing holidays in your plan: 1) defining the holiday (i.e. dates and times of parenting time exchanges) and 2) explain how the holiday will be divided or shared.

Every year, Thanksgiving falls on the fourth Thursday of November. Depending on the age of your children and their school schedules, the actual Thanksgiving holiday may fall in the middle of a fall or Thanksgiving break, which means that the days off of school, in addition to Thanksgiving Day, should be addressed in your plan.

Defining Thanksgiving

While this may seem straight forward, there are some unique factors that you should consider when determining how Thanksgiving should be defined. Is it likely that either you or your co-parent will want to travel at any point over the holiday with your children? Do you have specific family traditions (i.e. Thanksgiving lunch vs. dinner)? How have you and your children historically celebrated the holiday?

When you are defining a holiday, you should consider these factors, to make sure that your plan gives you the certainty that you need but the flexibility that will allow your family to continue to celebrate and enjoy your holiday traditions.

Dividing and/or Sharing Thanksgiving

Most often, co-parents alternate years in which they spend Thanksgiving day with their children. However, if either your or your co-parent’s family members live out of town, if you have specific traditions (either timing or event) that are important to you or your children, this may impact how Thanksgiving Day/ break is divided between co-parents. For example, if you expect that you will travel most years for Thanksgiving, you will need to consider schedules that allow sufficient time to get to and from your destination with your children. On some occasions, co-parents decide to split the actual day of Thanksgiving between the two of them, so that their children can enjoy time with both parents and both sides of their family. Occasionally, co-parents opt to jointly celebrate holidays like Thanksgiving.

Deciding how to define and divide Thanksgiving is unique in each case and to each family. At GEM Family Law, we understand that parenting plans are not “one size fits all” and that your unique family traditions and needs should be considered when developing your holiday schedule. Our seasoned family law attorneys can assist you in developing a parenting plan that enables your family to make the smoothest possible transition, even during the holidays. Schedule your free consultation today.

Authored by: Ashley G. Emerson