Getting Through the Holidays When Separated or Divorcing

The holidays are often thought of as a time to be with family, but that central dynamic changes when a couple is divorcing or has separated. When a couple has a child, the holidays can be especially stressful.

Custody during holidays is usually worked out in most custody agreements relating to a divorce, but the parents who spend the holidays without their children often must brace for a significant change in how they spend those holidays. In many cases, parents can be understandably depressed when they are spending these days and nights alone.

Holiday Child Custody Arrangements

When you are divorcing, you should work out a custody agreement that provides a holiday schedule that works for both parents. You may want to give one parent custody for a holiday in even-numbered years while the other parent has custody in the odd-numbered years.

You should also try to create a fair division of holidays throughout the year, so one parent does not have significantly more holiday time than the other. It is also essential to keep the considerations of children in mind during these discussions, as children may express preferences for certain traditions or other aspects of the holidays important to them.

Taking Children Across State Lines for Holidays

If you are planning on taking your child out-of-state for a holiday, you usually must make sure to have the permission of the other parent. Taking a child out of the state without permission may risk possible kidnapping charges as well as contempt of court, depending on the custody arrangements.

Restrictions on out-of-state travel are often included in custody agreements, and it may be possible that your order places no such restrictions. You should still make every effort to be safe.

Provide the other parent with regular updates about your activities, if requested. Temporary modifications of custody orders may be required when permission is required but cannot be obtained.

Tips for Making the Holidays Happier for Children During Divorce or Separation

Parents going through a divorce must walk a delicate line during the holidays. While they often try to retain as many of the same traditions and routines of years past, it is clear that some things are going to be noticeably different.

Divorced or separated parents should try to set their issues aside during the holidays to focus on making the time as enjoyable as possible for children. The safest route is often to ask children what they want to do and make it possible.

In some cases, merely offering a child the opportunity to call another parent during a holiday during which they do not have custody can have a significant positive effect on both the child and the other parent.

If you are dealing with issues related to divorce or separation this holiday season, you do not have to deal with it by yourself. An experienced attorney can help protect your rights as they relate to custody of your child.

Leigh Daniel has more than two decades of legal experience helping families deal with divorce. She can review your situation as soon as you call us or contact us online to set up a consultation.


A respected Huntsville family law attorney with more than 20 years’ experience, Leigh Daniel is known for her positive attitude and her skills in the courtroom. She prides herself in the care and compassion that she and her team put into every case. Her goal is to instill a sense of confidence in her clients so they know success is on the horizon. As an author, inspirational speaker, coach, and founder of Project Positive Change, Leigh stays focused on the positive impact she can make on every client’s case.