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Can You Keep Your Kids for the Holidays During Divorce?

For parents in the process of getting divorced, the holidays bring up a critical concern: who gets to have the kids for Christmas? Figuring this out can be a significant source of stress, even between parents who are otherwise divorcing amicably. The holidays are supposed to be time for family, after all. That can make it particularly painful to think about letting your children spend time with their other parent on important days instead of having them with you. 

If you’re going through a divorce and are still unsure where your kids will be for the holidays, now is the time to figure it out. Here’s what you need to know about how Oregon determines where kids will spend the holidays when parents share custody and how you can find an answer that fits your family. 

Child Custody and Parenting Plans in Oregon

In Oregon, which parent gets holiday child custody is typically determined by a parenting plan. These plans are required whenever parents split custody and must explain how much time both parents will get with the kids. While it is not obligatory, it is considered best practice to include details like which holidays kids will spend with each parent and basic schedules for weekly and monthly custody transfers. 

If your divorce is not yet final, you may not have a permanent parenting plan in place yet. The plans are often the cause of disputes as parents attempt to keep their children with them as much as possible or minimize inconvenient travel. If the lack of any schedule is causing problems, you or the court may decide that a temporary parenting plan is necessary. 

Temporary parenting plans are just that: temporary. They apply to a specific period and do not extend indefinitely like standard plans. For example, you may set up a short-term plan for the holiday season or until your divorce is finalized. This gives you, your co-parent, and your children a better idea of what to expect on a day-to-day basis until everything is completed. If you file your temporary plan with the court, it also gives you grounds to make an official complaint if your co-parent violates it. 

If you don’t have a plan yet, it’s best to develop one quickly. The sooner you and your spouse determine where your children will be over the holidays, the sooner you can relax and make the most of your time with your kids.

Negotiating Holiday Parenting Time 

Developing a parenting plan can be stressful, but it’s critical if you want your children to have a happy and stress-free holiday season. Here’s how you can negotiate holiday child custody during divorce and make sure your kids have the best experience possible. 

Put Your Children First

This is the single most crucial factor for any child custody dispute. Oregon law states that child custody arrangements must be decided with the best interest of the children in mind, not the parents. As a parent, you owe it to your children to make decisions according to what’s best for them, not what would make you happiest. 

That can mean many different things, but during the holidays, it means you should not be selfish or petty about parenting time decisions. Your kids have the right to spend time with their other parent, too. Keeping your kids’ rights and interests in mind can help you step back from your emotions about the holidays and allow you to develop a plan that works for everyone.

Have Goals

When you sit down to write a holiday parenting plan with your co-parent, have a strategy for how you want to split things up. If you start the discussion without any preferences in mind, it’s easy to get distracted by little details or turn every suggestion into an argument. However, if you have goals for your negotiations, staying focused and writing the plan you need is much easier. 

For example, consider the holiday traditions you and your children treasure most. Maybe you don’t care about New Year’s Eve, but you love the joy of Christmas morning. Perhaps your family has the tradition of opening presents on the 24th instead of the 25th. If you know which days and activities matter most to you, you’re better prepared to talk things out instead of fighting about every possible holiday.

Prepare to Compromise

You cannot develop a parenting plan without some compromises. It isn’t fair to your children or co-parent to keep them with you every holiday, after all. Your co-parent may also value Christmas morning as much as you do. You’ll need to find compromises that give everyone adequate time together. 


Finally, communication is critical in any parenting plan. Even the best-written plan can’t account for all possible issues. Illness, traffic, and the hassles of daily life may mean that your plan needs to be tweaked at the moment. 

Communicating allows you to handle these issues when they arise. After you’ve written your plan, you still need to respond to your co-parent’s texts and get answers to your own questions. Keeping communication frequent but casual makes it easier to make adjustments if things come up between now and the holidays. 

Prepare for the Holidays With Compassionate Legal Counsel

Co-parenting over the holidays can be complicated, but it’s worth the effort to give your kids the experiences they deserve. If you have concerns about sharing holiday child custody, you can get expert help from the skilled attorneys at Regele Law, LLC. 

Our lawyers understand the stress and pressure of co-parenting during the holidays. We can help you develop a parenting plan that fits your family’s unique needs. Learn more about how we can make your holiday season smoother by scheduling your consultation today.