The winter holidays are right around the corner. This is usually a time when families in Los Angeles gather and spend time together. However, the holidays can be difficult for families when parents are divorced. Figuring out which parent will get custody of the kids for the holidays can cause a lot of strife and pain. This can be particularly true when one parent is awarded a larger custody percentage than the other parent.

Fortunately, there are many ways to design a child custody agreement. As a parent, you will need to compromise and understand that you probably won’t be able to spend every single holiday with your children. When mapping out a custody plan, it’s important to consider:

  • Holiday rituals, ceremonies, or traditions that are most important to you

  • What’s in your child’s best interests

  • What your children may prefer, and

  • Logistics that could impact holiday plans.

Commonly Used Holiday Custody Agreements

Creating a child custody plan is somewhat of an art. Here are three custody plans that parents have come to rely on during the holidays.

1. Even Year, Old Year

Both parents get to spend the holidays with their kids, just not every year. Even year/odd year plans allow parents to alternate holidays every year.

Example: Parent A gets custody of the kids for Christmas, New Years, and the Fourth of July in all even years. Parent B gets custody fo the kids for those holidays in all odd years.

2. Dedicated Holidays

Some holidays are more important to some parents than others. Maybe it’s really important for you to spend Christmas with the kids because you have longstanding family traditions.  Or, maybe you don’t celebrate religious holidays and would prefer to spend other time with your kids. Parents should identify which holidays are most important to them. If you know that a specific holiday is really important to the child’s other parent, consider letting them have it. You can get a different holiday in return.

Example: Parent A really loves Thanksgiving and wants to make sure the kids are with them every year. Parent B much prefers Christmas, which Parent A doesn’t celebrate. Parent A gets custody on Thanksgiving every year, while Parent B gets custody on Christmas every year.

3. Extended Holiday Breaks

Kids generally have three major breaks from school during the year: winter break, spring break, and summer break. Holidays tend to fall during these breaks from the school year. Some parents prefer to spend extended time with their kids, rather than a single holiday. Many custody agreements allow one parent to get custody for winter break while the other gets custody for spring break. Custody can alternate each year or be permanent, depending on the parents’ preferences.

Example: Parent A gets custody of the kids for a 10-day winter break every year, while Parent B gets custody of the kids for a 10-day spring break every year.

Considering Timeshare Custody When Making Holiday Plans

Parents have a lot of control over the details of a child custody agreement. A court is likely to sign off on the arrangement as long as the parents divide custody equitable. Equitable doesn’t necessarily mean equal. Parents may not share the equal right to custody of their children. In fact, it’s quite common for parents to have different timeshare custody percentages.

The custodial parent, for example, may have custody of the children 70 percent of the time. The non-custodial parent would have custody of the kids for the remaining 30 percent of the time. Custody agreements must be designed with these percentages in mind.

As a result, it can be difficult for a non-custodial parent to spend time with their kids during the holidays. Many non-custodial parents find that they must forfeit custody during other times of the year in order to make holidays work. For example, a parent who normally has custody of the kids one weekend a month may have to forfeit one of those weekends to get custody for a long holiday weekend.


Always consider factors that could impact your child custody agreement. If you need assistance, do not hesitate to contact a Los Angeles family law attorney for help. At Fernandez & Karney, we can help you design a custody plan that works for you. Call us for assistance today.