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Holiday issues your parenting plan didn't address

Parenting plans are designed to frame the interactions between divorced parents. Ideally, your parenting plan will be a comprehensive guide that helps you avoid conflicts with your ex-spouse as you rear your children.

With that in mind, your parenting plan probably has a carefully designed holiday schedule that aims to give you and your ex fairly equal time with the kids whether you rotate holidays or use some other arrangement. The odds are high, however, that there are a few things you parenting plan is silent about.

What holiday issues might crop up between co-parents?

The holidays are an emotional time, and parenting plans tend to be focused more on logistics and calendars than anything. It probably doesn't address things like:

  • What are the limits on gifts? If one parent is trying to stick to a budget and focus the season around non-material things and the other is determined to shower the children with expensive gifts, that can create conflicts. Can you and their other parent find a middle ground that works for you both?
  • What happens if the kids want to take gifts from one house to the other? A holiday can be ruined for the kids if Dad won't let them take their new skateboard to Mom's, or Mom says that Dad can buy a game system for his house if he wants. Can you and your ex agree to give the kids autonomy over their presents?
  • What if there's a special event? The holidays are filled with special times. What happens if Grandma comes in to visit on a day when you aren't supposed to have the kids? What happens if Dad wants to take the kids to The Nutcracker ballet? Is there room for negotiation on the schedule?

Talking about these things with your ex as early as possible can help you avoid some serious conflicts down the road. If your ex is unreasonable or punitive, however, it may be time to involve your attorney.

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