As a family with divorced parents, the big holidays such as Christmas and Easter become more fraught. Particularly at Christmas where it's common to visit grandparents and extended families the changed family unit can become an issue for many families.
Here are some of your options for splitting the holidays.
Celebrate the Holidays with Each Family as They Fall
Your child access calendar can be continued across the holidays without change. This can be useful if there is a particularly fractious divorce situation as it minimises negotiation, and usually leads to a natural year-to-year swap of holidays between the parents.
However continuing the handovers and regular intervals can be very limiting if either party wishes to go away for a longer holiday than allowed by the period between handovers.
Alternate the Holidays Year to Year
You can also organise with the other parent to split the holidays and alternate year to year—allowing the children to alternate birthdays, Christmas and Easter while spending Mother's day with their mother and Father's day with their father. If the relationship with the parents is good this is a great way to go about it as the additional flexibility allows children to maintain strong relationships with their extended family.
Organise a Mid-holiday Swap over
Particularly for younger children, a mid day swap can be useful where the children spend the night before and the morning with one parent and then have a handover and lunch and dinner with the other parent. This can allow the child to spend time with both sides of their extended family and minimises the changes to the day.
This approach is only effective where the parents live relatively close to each other or the child may spend more of the holiday in the car than celebrating with family.
Celebrate the Holiday Together
If you still have a cordial relationship with the other parent having a joint celebration can help the children feel relaxed and truly enjoy the holiday. If it proves hard for each parent to host you can chose a neutral venue such as a park or restaurant so that everyone can relax and remember the most important thing—seeing the children having fun.
If you are looking to negotiate access arrangements around holidays, it is best to formalise these in your parenting plan. An experienced family law solicitor (like those at Alison & Associates) can help you negotiate and formalise holiday arrangements, as well as making sure the agreed arrangement is followed.