Creating a parenting plan or custody arrangement is an essential part of divorce proceedings for parents with children under 18. In Florida, there is no fixed or presumptive parenting plan. The courts recognize that every family is unique. Accordingly, parents are required to submit a parenting plan for court approval before divorce proceedings can be finalized. If the parents cannot agree, the court will consider each proposed plan and, after hearing testimony, will impose one on the family.
A parenting plan should include a weekly, monthly, and yearly time-sharing schedule. The plan should include where the children will go to school, which parent has them for overnights during the school weeks, and over weekends. In addition, parenting plans should specify how children will spend time outside normal parenting plan parameters, like during holidays, school breaks, vacations, and other special events.
Below are examples of common time-splitting scenarios parents may use to create their holiday plans. These plans could be used whether you are newly divorced and are splitting holidays with your children for the first time or if you have good reason to modify a current parenting plan.
In this scenario, holidays are split 50/50 between each parent every year. While one parent has the children for the entire holiday period, who sees the children alternates every year. For instance, one parent could spend the 4th of July with the children on even years and with the other on odd years. The holidays could also alternate within the calendar year, so the children spend Thanksgiving with one parent and Christmas with the other. These plans can be especially beneficial for families who wish to travel or spend time with out-of-state family members over the holidays without modifying an existing parenting plan. However, the drawback is that one parent does not see the children during the “off” year.
Splitting time between parents around the holidays offers families the flexibility to enjoy holiday traditions together. These arrangements work well if both parents are nearby. Children split time with each parent on the holiday, switching homes at a designated time. For example, children could spend Christmas Eve and Christmas morning with one parent, then switch to the other at 10 am. While children spend time with both parents on each holiday, the downside is they are shuffled between homes often.
One creative way to ensure parents celebrate every holiday with their children after getting divorced is to pick a secondary date to celebrate together. For instance, children can spend Thanksgiving Day with one parent but celebrate the holiday with the other parent on Black Friday.
One of the most straightforward ways to make a holiday parenting plan is to pick the holidays you’d like to spend with your children in advance. This could be an excellent option for parents with different religious backgrounds who prefer to have their children on relevant holidays but not others. The greatest disadvantage of this arrangement is that one parent never gets to spend certain holidays with their children.
This arrangement allows you to show your children that you and your ex-spouse have moved on amicably. Both parents would spend every holiday with their children, perhaps alternating houses to host each year. The benefit of this arrangement is that children can celebrate holidays with their entire family. However, this plan will not work unless both ex-spouses get along.
When creating your parenting plan, accounting for holidays and celebrations allows parents to know what to expect in the years following a divorce. You can combine the strategies listed above to tailor a time-sharing schedule that meets your family’s individual needs. At Peppler Law, we help Central Florida residents with all elements of divorce, including creating parenting plans and child support. Call our office at 407-307-3108 to see how we can help you navigate your divorce.