Man felling lonely during the christmas time

Child Custody & the Holidays

Who Gets the Kids for the Holidays in California?

With the holiday season approaching, you may be wondering how holidays are divided between parents who share custody. During your child custody case, you and the other party will have to submit a parenting plan that outlines how you will divide:

  • Time-sharing (i.e. which parent each child will live with—physical custody), and
  • Decision-making (i.e. how parents will share in making decisions about their child’s education, religious upbringing, health, and welfare—legal custody).

When submitting your parenting plan, you will also need to submit Form FL-341C, Children’s Holiday Schedule Attachment. On this form, you will have to state which years each parent will get physical custody on specific holidays.

Parents can work together to draft and file their parenting plans. However, if parents do not agree, the court will require them to attend mediation and attempt to negotiate and agree upon a parenting plan. If the parents still do not agree after mediation, a Judge will make orders regarding custody and visitation, including the terms of a holiday schedule.

How to Divide Time During the Holidays

If you are currently completing your parenting plan, you may be wondering what the best way to split custody for the holidays. What works for you and your family is unique to you, and the best way to divide the holidays differs from case to case.

Different ways that parents share holiday time include:

  • Alternating holidays every other year. Parents will alternate which holidays they spend with their children on even and odd years. Specifically, each parent will be assigned different holidays that they will have custody in even and odd years.
  • Assigning fixed holidays. With this plan, parents will spend the same holidays with their children every year. If parents have different religious backgrounds or a special affiliation with certain holidays, this arrangement works well.
  • Splitting the holiday in half. With this arrangement, each parent spends part of the day with their child. For instance, Parent A will spend the first half of the holiday with their child, and then, Parent B will spend the second half of the day with them.

Tips for Co-Parenting During the Holidays

Once you have a court-ordered custody agreement and holiday schedule, you may still be worried about how to navigate the holidays while co-parenting. Here are some tips to reduce the stress of co-parenting during the holiday season.

  • Be honest about how things are different. For divorced or separated families, the holidays after the separation can be very different than you are used to. Acknowledge what has changed and how that makes your children feel.
  • Create new traditions. As we said, the holidays may look different this year. Embrace the differences and try something new. Whether you and your children cook a new holiday dish or have a movie marathon, have fun creating new memories and traditions instead of focusing on how things used to be.
  • Be flexible. Not only should you be prepared to make compromises, but you should also plan to handle the unexpected. Sometimes, plans go awry or external factors (that you didn’t account for) affect your plans.
  • Coordinate with your co-parent. Whether you use a co-parenting app or talk face-to-face, you and your co-parent should discuss your holiday plans, especially as it relates to gifts. You can avoid giving your child duplicate gifts and set price limits. Many co-parenting holiday issues arise when parents are angry or resentful that the other bought something very expensive or more gifts than they discussed.
  • Put your children first. While you and your co-parent may disagree on a lot of things, you likely both want your children to have the best holiday season. In your child’s best interest, try to be as amicable as possible and avoid fighting in front of your children. You can also encourage your children to spend time with the other parent and/or strengthen their relationship. Whether you help them shop for a gift or just give them a push to call their parent if they are not spending the holiday with them, your child will appreciate and benefit from amicability between co-parents.

Speak with Our Attorneys

At The Law Offices of Makupson & Howard, we have dedicated our practice to family law matters. If you or a loved one are involved in a child custody dispute, you can trust our attorneys to help you smoothly navigate your case. Whether you need help figuring out how to divide the holidays or have other case-specific questions, we can work to answer your questions and help you understand your options.

With over 50 years of collective legal experience, our attorneys can work tirelessly to help you find a favorable outcome in your child custody case. Schedule an initial consultation with our attorneys today by calling (888) 328-2734.

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