Christmas or Hanukkah Holiday Schedules For Divorcing Parents

Every year, matrimonial attorneys will have to negotiate Christmas or Hanukkah parenting schedules for parents who are separated for the first time over these religious holidays. For Christian parents the issue is Christmas Eve and Christmas Day and for Jewish parents there are eight days of Hanukkah. Additionally, there is also New Year's Eve and New Year's Day to be addressed.

Everything that follows below is also age sensitive. So how it is handled for a child who still believes in Santa Claus may be different then what is recommended for a 15 year old. Some families celebrate certain holidays with their extended family so there may be a home where one side of the family always celebrates Christmas Eve together and the other side of the family always celebrates Christmas Day together. In Jewish households some families give a present each night, some give all the presents the first night or perhaps the "best" present the first night and small items on the other nights. So trying to follow each family's traditions is always the long as it is fair to both sides and considers the needs of the children.

Where both the mother and father want the same thing and can't agree many lawyers will propose the following schedule:

In Odd Years the child is with one parent from 11 AM Christmas Eve until 11 AM Christmas Day. The other parent then has from 11 AM Christmas Day until December 26th at 11 AM. The following year the schedule reverses. Therefore, neither parent always gets Christmas Eve or Morning.

The remainder of the school recess can be alternated on an odd year/even year basis so that the parent with the children from December 26th at 11 AM continues with the children through New Year's Day or until the night before school resumes. Alternatively, the parents can split the remainder of the school recess from December 26th until the night before school resumes. In this manner New Year's Eve and Day are all part of the recess rather than treated as a stand alone holiday.

Jewish families have the complication that Hanukkah does not always occur during the school recess or may overlap the recess. There are years where Hanukkah is early in December and other years where it is around the same time as Christmas. Many Jewish families will make their schedule so that one parent has the first night and the other parent has the second night of Hanukkah with a reversal for the following year. If the families want to divide the remaining six nights of the holiday that can be done as well.

The ultimate goal is that the children and their parents enjoy the holidays and school recess.