How to Determine Who Has the Kids for the Holidays After a Divorce

April 15, 2024


Navigating the holiday season after a divorce can be a challenging and emotional time, especially when it comes to determining custody arrangements for your children. Deciding who will have the kids for the holidays requires careful consideration, communication, and planning to ensure that the children’s best interests are prioritized and everyone involved can enjoy a peaceful and harmonious holiday season. In this blog post, we will discuss some tips and strategies for determining who has the kids for the holidays after a divorce, helping to make the process as smooth and positive as possible.

Understanding Custody Arrangements and Agreements

Before making any decisions about holiday custody arrangements, it is important to review and understand the custody agreements and parenting plan that were established during the divorce proceedings. The custody arrangements outlined in these legal documents will typically specify how holidays and special occasions will be divided between parents, including specific schedules for Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, and other holidays. By referring to these agreements, you can ensure that all decisions regarding holiday custody are made in accordance with the terms and conditions set forth in the legal documents.

Prioritizing the Children’s Best Interests

When determining holiday custody arrangements after a divorce, the primary focus should always be on the best interests of the children involved. Consider how different custody arrangements may impact the children’s emotional well-being, sense of stability, and ability to enjoy the holiday season. Be mindful of the children’s preferences, traditions, and expectations for the holidays, and strive to create a plan that allows them to spend quality time with both parents and extended family members in a loving and supportive environment. Putting the children’s needs first will help ensure that the holiday season is a positive and memorable experience for them.

Maintaining Open and Honest Communication

Effective communication is key to successfully navigating holiday custody arrangements after a divorce. Establish open and honest lines of communication with your co-parent to discuss holiday schedules, preferences, concerns, and any potential conflicts that may arise. Keep the lines of communication respectful, constructive, and focused on finding mutually agreeable solutions that prioritize the children’s well-being. By maintaining clear and transparent communication with your co-parent, you can work together to create a holiday custody plan that meets the needs of both parents and the children.

Considering Alternating or Shared Holidays

One common approach to determining holiday custody arrangements after a divorce is to establish a rotating or shared schedule that allows both parents to spend time with the children during the holidays. For example, you may decide to alternate Thanksgiving and Christmas each year, with one parent having the children for Thanksgiving in even-numbered years and the other parent having them for Christmas, and vice versa in odd-numbered years. Alternatively, you could choose to divide the holidays themselves, with the children spending part of the day with each parent. Exploring alternating or shared holiday arrangements can help ensure that both parents have the opportunity to create special memories with the children during the holiday season.

Creating New Traditions and Celebrations

After a divorce, it is common for families to establish new traditions and celebrations that reflect their unique circumstances and dynamics. Embrace the opportunity to create new holiday traditions with your children that focus on togetherness, quality time, and shared experiences rather than material gifts or grand gestures. Consider involving the children in the planning and decision-making process for holiday celebrations, allowing them to contribute their ideas, preferences, and traditions to create a special and meaningful holiday experience for everyone involved. By embracing new traditions and celebrations, you can foster a sense of belonging, unity, and positivity during the holiday season.

Seeking Mediation or Professional Support

If you and your co-parent are unable to reach a consensus on holiday custody arrangements, consider seeking the assistance of a mediator or professional counselor to facilitate discussions and help you navigate the decision-making process. Mediation can provide a neutral and supportive environment for parents to discuss their concerns, explore different options, and work towards mutually beneficial solutions that prioritize the children’s well-being. A professional counselor or therapist can also offer guidance and support to help parents communicate effectively, manage emotions, and make informed decisions regarding holiday custody arrangements. Seeking mediation or professional support can help alleviate tension, conflict, and stress during the holiday season and promote a cooperative and harmonious co-parenting relationship.

Planning Ahead and Being Flexible

To ensure a smooth and stress-free holiday season after a divorce, it is important to plan ahead and be flexible when it comes to holiday custody arrangements. Start discussing holiday schedules and arrangements with your co-parent well in advance of the holiday season to allow for adequate time to make arrangements, address any concerns, and finalize the details. Be willing to compromise, negotiate, and adjust your plans as needed to accommodate unforeseen circumstances, changing schedules, or unexpected events. Demonstrating flexibility and a willingness to work together with your co-parent can help you navigate holiday custody arrangements with grace, respect, and cooperation.


Determining who has the kids for the holidays after a divorce requires careful consideration, communication, and planning to ensure that the children’s best interests are prioritized and everyone involved can enjoy a peaceful and harmonious holiday season. By understanding custody arrangements and agreements, prioritizing the children’s best interests, maintaining open and honest communication, considering alternating or shared holidays, creating new traditions and celebrations, seeking mediation or professional support, planning ahead, and being flexible, you can navigate holiday custody arrangements with empathy, compassion, and cooperation, promoting a positive and memorable holiday experience for everyone involved.

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