Custody brings its share of conflicts without adding holidays into the mix. However, when school lets out for holiday breaks, it can be contentious, especially when travel is involved.

A recent article in Tatler confronted the issue, noting that “things can be particularly tricky” when parents disagree on custody arrangements. Many quarrels at this time of year involve one of these issues:

  • The amount of time a child will spend with each parent
  • Which parent hosts the child for a specific date, such as a holiday or other milestone
  • The suitability of a travel destination
  • The presence of one parent’s new partner

The article noted that travel disagreements can be elevated when one parent is an expatriate and wishes to take a child to visit his or her home country, saying that sometimes “an extended holiday slips into the wrongful retention of a child,” and cautioning that protective safeguards could be put in place, such as monetary bonds, a mirror order in the other country, or a way to safekeep the child’s passport.

Another article in Talking Parents shared ideas to help navigate custody conflict over the holidays, suggesting that parents could:

  • Alternate holidays from year to year, with one parent taking odd years and the other even years
  • Split holiday breaks in half, with a child spending the beginning with one parent and the end with the other
  • Assign each other fixed holidays that remain “theirs” from year to year

I have always been an advocate of parents being flexible during the holidays. Consider celebrating holidays when you are with the child, as opposed to being laser-focused on the actual 24 hours of the holiday. I wrote about this in my article, “Does Christmas Have to Be on December 25th?” A Thanksgiving feast tastes just as good when prepared the day after Thanksgiving.

Regardless of how parents approach holiday custody planning, I would suggest some final strategies: that they not involve kids in those discussions, that they stick to a plan once it is agreed upon, and they remember that their ultimate goal is for their child to have loving, flexible, and communicative parents.

If you need help with a custody matter in Pennsylvania, we know how to effectively represent you and take steps to protect your parental rights. Contact the top Bucks County custody attorneys of Williams Family Law by phone at 215-340-2207 or email us at