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Suggestions for Custody: Thanksgiving and Christmas

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LimboStill posted 3/14/2014 15:03 PM

With a worksheet provided by a child psychologist (the custody expert my ex refused to continue to see), I am trying to come up with an arrangement that I feel good about and that I might be able to get him to sign.

I'm getting stuck at Christmas and Thanksgiving and wonder if you can share anything from your experience. I'm overwhelmed trying to sort this out, so I apologize in advance for my rambling.

Starting next year, my children's school will have the whole week of Thanksgiving off. We usually travel for Christmas, but not Thanksgiving, as relatives are far away. We typically just have Thanksgiving dinner with friends. My ex has never contributed in any way to Thanksgiving dinner and does not cook.

So . . . Keep our usual weekly schedule and alternate that Thursday each year? I don't know that alternating the entire week-long break would make sense if we generally stay in town.

Does anyone have a requirement in the agreement that the holiday be celebrated as the children have traditionally celebrated it?

This last Christmas was our first apart. The kids were with him Christmas Eve, spent the night with me so they could wake up here Christmas morning and he came over to see them open the presents under the tree. He buys no gifts, never has, and doesn't care about decorating.

I think we could continue with what we did last year (Eve with him, morning with me), but that requires us to both stay in town. Maybe being with both of us Christmas morning is more important than being with relatives the whole break.

2014 Christmas falls on a Thursday and the kids are out of school starting the preceding Sat., the 20th, returning to school 1/5. Should we keep roughly our usual parenting schedule before Christmas, do the Eve and Morning thing, and then split the time before the 5th in case we want to visit relatives?

I think that would work for next year, but it seems like we need terms that work every year. Does anyone set new plans each year? I'm dealing with someone who is frustrating this process and will not return emails, so I'm not sure ongoing negotiation is the best idea.

As always, any advice from you life savers is always appreciated!

momentintime posted 3/14/2014 15:43 PM

I wouldn't let him share Xmas day at all. He contributes nothing but the honor of his presence. FTG! Why should he share family time and get the benefit of presumed gifts he contributed to when that isn't true.

Alternate Thanksgiving day from year to year. Is he even interested in sharing Thanksgiving week, or too much trouble?

He gets Xmas eve, you get them overnight and all Xmas day without his sorry butt.

PurpleRose posted 3/14/2014 15:54 PM

Here is the norm in my state:

Custodial parent gets whole Thanksgiving break (which is the whole week for us) in odd years, other parent in even years. So that is Friday from release of school until Monday morning return.

Christmas break is split in half. Custodial parent gets from release of school until Dec 28th. in even years, other parent gets Dec 28th at noon until kids return to school (Jan 6/7th).

In odd years the Christmas schedule is reversed.

It really doesnt matter if he "does" Thanksgiving or not, or if he buys gifts or not. In the long run-- do you really ant to have to share Christmas morning with this guy indefinately!??! What happens when you or he get involved with someone else? Or remarried?

[This message edited by PurpleRose at 3:55 PM, March 14th (Friday)]

SBB posted 3/14/2014 16:41 PM

These things are almost always shared unless one parent doesn't want to have them.

We don't have Thanksgiving here but on normal school holidays we maintain the existing schedule then the Christmas break is week on week off (handover being 10am Christmas morning). We swap Christmas Day each year. One gets to wake up with them Christmas morning - the otter gets to have family Christmas lunch with them.

I know mums who have half half of the long holidays and I just could not NOT see my girls for 3-4 weeks. I would agree as an exception if he or I were taking them overseas but I wouldn't lock it in every year.

Mothers/Fathers Day are usually spent with the mother/father - you also have kids birthdays to consider. Our schedule remains the same if one has them in the morning of their birthday and the other that night. If one has both morning and night the other gets the birthday child from the end if school to 7pm. If it falls on a weekend the other parent gets them 1pm-5pm.

Try to think forward - will you be likely to want to travel that week in future? In your thinking you have to assume he is going to have the same arrangement every other year.

This stuff is hard to get your head (and heart) around at first but soon it will become your new normal.

caregiver9000 posted 3/14/2014 16:45 PM

Our parenting agreement actually does protect kids traditions.

I have the kids on July 3rd due to a long standing tradition.

We did Thanksgiving with him having from release of school until Friday at noon. I have the weekend regardless of the custody schedule. My family never did Thanksgiving on Thursday due to work and travel. His did.

Christmas I have from release of school until 2pm on Christmas day. The kids have always done Christmas Eve with my family and Christmas afternoon with his. We kept that.

You can make your agreement any way that suits you if you can agree to it. If you end up in court, a judge will assign a standard odd years/even years split.

Figure out what you want and go from there.

whyohwhyohwhy posted 3/14/2014 16:59 PM

I have my kids Thanksgiving day, he gets them Thanksgiving weekend. (Friday to Sunday, but he usually doesn't pick them up until at least 5 on black Friday.)

I get them until noon on Christmas Day, he gets them from noon on Christmas Day until noon on the 26th. If Christmas falls at the end of the week, and it's his weekend, I usually just let him keep them until Sunday. Once in a while, he will take one of them to work with him on Xmas Eve, which I'm ok with.

So far, it's worked out well. He never asked for more than that, claiming that he had to work. I work in schools, so I usually have very similar time off with the kids' breaks etc. The only time it hasn't worked out well is when I wanted to take them to see my relatives Thanksgiving weekend, and they're hours away, but in the beginning he never argued about it when I asked.

Since he now has a girlfriend and is trying to look like father of the year, if he asks to have them a few days over school breaks I generally say yes as it's nice to have a few days to myself.

Bluebird26 posted 3/15/2014 06:47 AM

No Thanksgiving here. We have split Xmas day in half. One gets Christmas Eve & to wake up with them and lunch on Xmas Day, the other gets them from 2pm on Xmas day to 4pm Boxing Day. It's not perfect and really irritating still having to see him on Xmas day but it allows the kids to see both parents on the holiday. As they get older this may change.

The ex also has 1/2 of the school holidays except for Xmas (which is summer here) he gets them for 2 non-consecutive weeks during summer holidays.

The ex rarely ever takes them though as he is frequently 'unavailable', the upside it gives me more time with our kids.

LimboStill posted 3/16/2014 09:47 AM

Thank you, everybody! Something I've taken away from your comments is that the plan should reflect what is best in the worst of times (e.g., we aren't getting along so well). I figure we can always make variations, like sharing Christmas morning, if we are relatively peaceful, but should not be bound to a plan that forces such contact and cooperation. Now to get him to agree to the damned thing.

gypsybird87 posted 3/16/2014 14:08 PM

The arrangement we had with his kids mom was one parent got the full Thanksgiving week, and the other parent got the full Spring break week. Then the following year, you swap.

For Christmas, she generally kept them from the day school break started until Christmas morning. We got them noon Christmas day until the school break ended. We use to alternate years on this too, but then she wanted to stick with us getting them noon on Christmas. This worked well because she always wanted to go out and party on New Years, while we were fine with staying home. Travel to see relatives wasn't an issue for us though, so this arrangement might not work for you.

Isn't visitation fun? Can't say I miss being in the middle of that drama! Good luck!

ruinedandbroken posted 3/16/2014 17:23 PM

In our state one parent will get the kids from the last day of school on Thanksgiving break and then keep them for the whole break and bring them to school the first day back. Then the next year the other parent will have the arrangement. It flips each year.

Christmas one parent will pick up kids on last day of school for Christmas break and keep them until 3:00 on Christmas day. Then the other parent gets the kids until they go back to school after New Years. It flip flops every year.

I hate it. I absolutely hate it. But unless both parents agree to something different, this is the default here.

Lobo posted 3/16/2014 20:33 PM

These things are always prickly. What would your children like to do?

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