Attorney Steven E. Springer at desk


Steven E. Springer Dec. 28, 2015

Happy mother and son building gingerbread houseThe divorce of one’s parents is never easy, even if the parents are able to maintain a friendly relationship and the divorce goes smoothly. It is important to create and implement good co-parenting strategies to help preserve a sense of stability for the children. The holidays are an especially important time; they should be a joyful time, but are often fraught with familial disputes and stress.


It is important for parents to maintain good relationships with each other and with their children throughout the holidays. The holiday season is often a time of dispute between divorced parents, who generally want to spend them with their children. In California, a parenting plan, which is a court order, generally dictates where children will spend holidays.

On holidays, divorced parents have two main options: to divide the children’s holiday time between the two parents or to spend the holiday together. If divorcing parents can come to a reasonable agreement regarding holiday plans, the court will generally approve that agreement and formalize it in the parenting plan.


If parents choose to divide their children’s time on holidays, they may elect to have the children alternate years, spending even years with one parent and odd years with the other. They may also divide each holiday into two parts, for example, having children spend the morning at one parent’s home and the evening at the other’s. This is less practicable if the parents do not live close to each other.


If the parents have a good relationship, they may try to spend holidays together with the children. This can be a less desirable option for a parent, but may be best for the child. If the parents spend holidays together, it is essential for them to behave well and to avoid insulting or undermining the other parent. To ensure that a holiday is successful and not contentious, it is a good idea to establish some ground rules to preserve a peaceful atmosphere.


A parenting plan may outline an idea way to spend the holidays; however, court orders are only as good as the people following them. To ensure that the holiday season goes smoothly, parents should communicate beforehand, making sure that they both understand the plan and do not feel taken advantage of or get upset. This is especially important if the children’s holiday time is going to be divided between two parents. If the child is old enough, it is also important to consult him or her. No parent wants to spend valuable holiday time with an upset or grumpy child.

Good co-parenting, of course, should not occur only during the holidays. If you are considering a divorce, an attorney can discuss your custody options and advise you on co-parenting strategies. Please contact a skilled San Jose family law attorney at The Law Offices of Steven E. Springer at 408-779-4700 for a free initial consultation, in Morgan Hill, San Jose or Fremont.