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The holidays are coming. How should we handle the time with the kids?

Question: My husband and I separated recently. We haven’t hired attorneys yet and until we do, we are kind of making things up as we go along. The holidays are approaching and I am wondering what the standard is for dividing time with the kids. Should we flip a coin? Have one of us take Thanksgiving and the other take Christmas? Or should we split each holiday in two?

Answer: The short answer is yes to any or all of the above, or any other arrangement on which you can agree. Without a court order in place delineating who gets what holiday, the two of you are truly left to your own devices.

Many people try some, or all, of the options that you mention. You could flip a coin for Thanksgiving. The loser of the coin toss could then take Christmas. Some couples alternate holidays each year. For example, you would get Thanksgiving this year and your ex would get it next year. Other families will split the day, with one parent taking the morning and one taking the evening. This works especially well if one extended family has a tradition of having the big meal at noon, and one has a tradition of having it in the evening.

There are no right or wrong ways—and, in fact, the more you can work together the better! As you move toward divorce and retain attorneys, you will find that working through decisions together has many benefits: It saves money because your attorneys do not have to negotiate with each other, it creates goodwill, which can help make other decisions—such as property division—easier, and it keeps your decision-making out of court, where a judge could very well make a determination that neither of you are happy with.

You know best what works for your family. Trust your instincts and you will be sure to arrive at a situation that works for all involved.

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