Ideal Child Custody Holiday Schedule Guide

There is no right or wrong holiday schedule or one that fits all families. What may work for party A, might not work for party B. For parents who share physical custody, some holidays require thoughtful planning so you can enjoy quality time with your kids.

The best plan, from the start, usually involves keeping the schedule similar to what it was before the separation. The holiday routines and habits that were formed probably worked best for a reason, and should be followed now, where possible.

Children do well when customs and traditions they are familiar with, can continue while the family works through the separation stage. 

Most states allow parents to alter the parenting schedule by a mutual agreement. This makes it easier for parents to augment and evolve a schedule for both sides to enjoy the holidays, and thereafter respect and follow their original court-ordered cooperation. 

Some of the holidays to consider in your schedule

Some of the common court-approved holidays that you can schedule to share as parents include, but are not limited to: 

  • Christmas day – This is celebrated on 25th December every year. It is one of the most celebrated holidays and a crucial moment to spend with family members. Therefore, as parents, you should think of possible ways to schedule times to spend with your child or children. You can choose to alternate years, celebrate the event twice such as on the 20th and 25th, or on 25th and 26th where each parent can have a full day to celebrate with the child. 

An alternative option for Christmas is to divide the day into half where the child spends the morning with one parent and the afternoon with the other parent. This, however, may not work well for the child especially where the child wants to have a day with one parent undisturbed. 

Another possibility is spending the day together. This is only possible for parents who are on good speaking terms with one another. 

  • Christmas eve – This is the day before Christmas and is celebrated on December 24th every year. In shared physical custody, you can schedule how to spend this holiday either by alternating the years or scheduling odd and even years. 
  • Halloween – This happens on October 31st every year. It is one of the best holidays for kids. You may wish to alternate yearly where the child spends time with one parent, and in the next year, the child spends the holiday with the other parent. 
  • Labor Day – This is a day set apart to recognize the US workforce and to celebrate their contribution to nation-building. It is also called a patriotic day and is celebrated on the first Monday of September. As parents share custody, you may alternate the years or split time to have the child spend the holiday with both parents at different times of the day. 

Special events to consider in your schedule 

  • Child’s birthday – this is the most important day in the Calendar of the child. You may wish to alternate the years and have the child celebrate with one parent in the current year and the other parent in the following year. 
  • Father’s Day – this is a day to celebrate the fathers. It happens on the Second Sunday of June. The child can spend time with the father during this day. It can be from 8.00 am to 8:00 am the following day if the child’s program is not affected. 
  • Mother’s Day – This is the day to celebrate mothers. It happens on the second Sunday of May. Just like Father’s Day, the child can spend time with the mother during this day. It can also be as early as 8:00 am to the same time of the following day. 

Holiday schedule example 

Here are the possible options to get an idea on how to spend the holiday with the child in shared custody. You can draft your schedule as a mutual agreement with the other parent based on what works for you and the best interests of the child. 

Option 1: Even and odd years 

In even and odd years schedules, the parents can have their schedule based on even and odd years and in an alternating cycle. An example of even and odd years schedule is in the table below. You may wish to adjust it to suit your needs if this is the idea for your holiday schedule. 

Even Years Odd YearsTime
Christmas eve24th DecFatherMother9.00 am – 25th 9.00 am
Christmas day25th DecMother Father9.00 am – 26th 9.00 am
Halloween31st OctFatherMother4.00 pm – 8.00 pm 
Labor DayFirst Monday of SeptemberMotherFather10.00 am – 6.00 pm 
Martin Luther King Day3rd Monday of JanuaryFatherMother10.00 am – 6.00 pm 
Easter Saturday Through SundayAfter March 21stMotherFatherPossible to schedule twice 
Thanksgiving DayFourth Thursday of NovemberFatherMother4.00 pm – 8.00 pm
Independence Day4th JulyMotherFather4.00 pm – 8.00 pm
New Year’s Eve31st DecFatherMother2.00 pm – 8.00 pm
New Year’s Day1st JanuaryMotherFather10.00 am – 6.00 pm

The above is just an example that you may adjust to suit your needs. Some factors that may affect the schedule may include the distance between the two parents, and the weather conditions among other factors. 

Option 2: Spending time together 

This is where co-parents can organize to spend time together with the child at a specified venue. Though this sounds a good thing, especially for the child, it may not be possible for parents who are not on good terms with each other. 

Option 3: Scheduling holidays twice 

Some holidays such as Christmas and Easter are big enough for parents to schedule it twice. The other possible holidays to schedule twice include New Year’s and Day. 

Option 4: Sharing the holidays equally

Another possible option is to have all the holidays on the list and fairly share the holidays. You may wish to exempt some of the major holidays where you may want to schedule twice such as the Christmas and Easter holidays.  


Drafting a holiday schedule is not a difficult task if you can cooperate and share the time fairly with the other parent. You should, therefore, list all the holidays and consider the best interests of the child as well as come up with a holiday time-sharing schedule.