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AgreementsChild CustodyDivorcePost Divorce IssuesVisitationNew York Parenting Plans: Handling Holidays and Vacations in Child Custody Agreements

May 16, 2016

When you look back on your childhood, it’s likely that some of your most vivid and impactful memories are from family vacations or time spent together on holidays. The family road trip, a visit to Disneyworld, gathering aunts, uncles, grandparents, and cousins together for Thanksgiving – these are the moments we remember.

As parents, we feel the same way about times like we spend with our children. That is why it is so important that divorcing parents have a custody and parenting time agreement that clearly defines how, when and where children will spend their holidays and vacations.

Specific provisions for holidays and vacations should be included as part of a comprehensive parenting plan.


A parenting plan will establish a regular visitation schedule. In most plans, the schedule established for holidays has priority over the regular weekday, weekend, and summer schedules in the plan. For example, if the regular schedule provides that a the father would have the children on the weekend when Mother’s Day falls, the holiday schedule would “kick in” and  the mother would get to spend that day with the children instead (the reverse holds  true for Father’s Day)

With exceptions for holidays like Mother’s or Father’s Day and the parents’ respective birthdays, parents will typically alternate holidays.  The schedule is reversed the next year, i.e., one year a mother may get the 4th of July, and the next year the father would get it.

For a child’s birthday, most parents try to reach an agreement that will allow each parent to spend some time with the child on that day every year.

The plan should specifically identify each holiday that matters to the parents, from secular holidays like Memorial Day, the 4th of July, or New Year’s Day to religious ones such as Easter or Passover. The plan should also specify the beginning and end times for visitation on each holiday


A parenting plan will also allocate parenting time for summer vacations, Spring Breaks and Winter Breaks. Parents can divide these times how they see fit, accommodating for holidays and other events. Usually, parents will divide time equally during Spring and Winter Breaks.

Since schedules for kids are dramatically different in the summer than they are during the school year, parents should make specific arrangements for how parenting time will be allocated during those three months.

Parents who are planning to take trips during their vacation time with their kids should advise the other parent of their plans and provide contact information in case of emergency. If a parent has a concern about a particular trip planned by the other parent, they should make those concerns known.  If no agreement can be reached, they should contact their divorce attorney to explore how or if they can intervene.

If you have questions or concerns regarding vacation and holiday arrangements in a New York divorce, please give Clement Law a call at (212) 683-9551 of fill out our online form to arrange for a consultation. We look forward to assisting you.

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