Navigating Holiday Parenting Time and Changes to Parenting Time in the New Year

Holidays and Child Custody

The holiday season can be stressful when it comes to navigating holiday parenting time, if you are in the early stages of the divorce process or if you have a defined parenting plan already in place. The following tips will help ensure that you have a successful holiday season and new year with your children.  

Make Your Plans Now

Advanced planning is key. You do not want to be fighting with your soon-to-be-ex or ex about holiday parenting time with your children. You should be spending quality time with your children when you have time off from work. Do not wait until the last minute to agree on the holiday plans with your co-parent. When you’re planning the celebrations, you should be realistic. Can you and your co-parent be in the same room? How contentious has your divorce been? Is child custody an issue?

The key indicators show that the less conflict you and your co-parent have, the less stress and harm you are causing your children. The holidays are a magical time for children. If you are just starting the divorce or child custody process, be realistic about what is feasible and what is going to cause the least amount of stress for your children.  As much as both parents want to spend time with their children during the holidays, it might not make sense to have both of you in the same room with the children if tension and stress levels are high. Remember that your kids are the focus of the holidays. Don’t put your kids in a position where you and your spouse are fighting in front of them. 

Remember the Children Want Time With Both of Their Parents

Children want to spend time with both of their parents, even if their parents are not together or are in the process of splitting up. If you put yourself in the shoes of your children, you will likely approach the holiday schedule between homes with reason and empathy. While you might not like the other parent, the other parent is still your children’s other parent.  

Don’t Fixate on What the Other Parent is Doing for the Holidays

It is easy to be triggered by the other parent by ruminated about what they will be doing for the holidays with your children and what other third parties will be around the children. Do not make the holidays a competition between you and the other parent. More gifts do not equal more love for your children. You may be tempted to buy your kids a ton of gifts so they have a better time with you than with your spouse. Do not fall into this trap. The Court, a mediator, or an expert may see this as an attempt to turn your kids against your spouse, which will cause much more harm than good. Try to communicate with your spouse so that the kids are getting roughly equal gifts from each of you during the holidays.

Create New Traditions Moving Forward

If you are at the beginning of separation or a few years out from finalizing your divorce, it is helpful to focus on creating new traditions and memories with your children. It is a period of change for everyone; however, the holidays can be a time to reflect on what you appreciate. 


Make sure to take some time to recharge with your children. Don’t think about your divorce. Don’t stress about your separation agreement. Focus on having fun with your family. Watch a holiday movie you enjoy. Go play in the snow with your kids. Use this time to recharge — you absolutely need and deserve a break.

A New Year

A new year is a time to reflect on how you want to make certain improvements in your life which should also include a plan for how you will be showing up for your children in the new year. Many parenting plans contain a provision that the parties will review their parenting plan on a yearly basis to determine of any changes need to be made in the best interests of the children. This is a time to not only reflect on what changes need to be made to your parenting plan for your children, but how you will show up for your children and interact with their other parent in a positive way. 

Learn More

To read more about navigating holiday parenting time during a divorce, click here. To make sure you get to spend quality time with your children, especially during the holiday season contact one of our divorce lawyers at Kalamaya | Goscha. We are a Colorado law firm founded by Ryan Kalamaya and Amy Goscha. Our team specializes in divorce, child custody, and family law. Kalamaya | Goscha has law offices in Denver, Edwards, Aspen, & Glenwood Springs. To speak to an attorney call (970) 300-9644.

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