Some say the holidays are the most wonderful time of the year. The tree goes up, decorations come out and it’s time to bake cookies. But for divorced parents who want equal time with their kids on Christmas Day, dealing with child visitation around the holidays can be challenging. Family law attorney Carolyn Grimes shares tips for parents on how to navigate holiday visitation, while putting the child’s best interest first.

“Everyone knows how excited children get around the holidays,” explains Carolyn. “Parents try to make the holidays magical for their kids. But there’s nothing that can ruin it more than two parents fighting over the child. Children want to spend the holidays opening presents and playing in the snow, not listening to their parents fight over visitation.”

Minimize conflict by rotating holiday schedules

Often, parents are so concerned about winning the battle and getting to spend more time with their child on Christmas Day that they overlook what’s actually best for the child. “No child wants to wake up Christmas morning, open up presents from Santa at one parent’s house and then be told that it’s time to pack up and go to their other parent’s house,” says Grimes. “In my experience, it’s best to have the child spend Christmas Day with one parent and then every other year rotate the schedule so Christmas Day falls in the other parent’s block.”

What the child is going to remember and what they really want is to spend quality time with both parents. Grimes says, “Kids don’t care if they are celebrating Christmas on December 25, December 26 or December 27, and they certainly don’t care if they have to celebrate it twice.”

“Unfortunately, if you can’t work out visitation on your own, then the court is going to, says Grimes. “That means a stranger will decide where your kid is going to spend Christmas Eve. At the end of the day, the best gift you can give your child, is to be the bigger person.”

About the Author

This is a profile picture of family law attorney Carolyn M. Grimes.

Carolyn M. Grimes

Carolyn Grimes is a partner at Friedman, Grimes, Meinken & Leischner PLLC, practicing in all areas of family law including divorce, spousal support, child custody, child support, equitable distribution, retirement issues, and prenuptial agreements, among other areas.

Consistently named a ‘Best Lawyer’ (from 2014-2023), Ms. Grimes has also been honored as an AV Preeminent (2001-2022) and Gold Client Champion (2019-2021) by Martindale-Hubbell. In addition, she’s been named a Top Lawyer by Northern Virginia Magazine Magazine (2011, 2015, 2017, 2019, 2020, 2021), a Top Attorney by Arlington Magazine (2019-2021), and a Top Attorney by Washingtonian Magazine (2015) as well as many other top attorney designations.

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