Holiday festivities can be difficult to navigate after a divorce, particularly for families who've recently separated. Your parenting agreement specifies visitation dates, but may not provide much guidance beyond that. Just as the courts keep the child's best interests in the forefront, there are steps you and your ex-spouse can take to make the holiday season memorable and exciting for the children.
The visitation schedule, or possession order, will have been agreed on by both parents and approved by a judge as part of your parenting agreement. However, how your child spends free time is left to the individual parent. It's unrealistic to expect post-divorce holidays to be entirely stress-free, but planning can alleviate some of the children's discomfort with the new family structure. Here are a few holiday tips for divorced parents:
- Make plans in advance. Do not impose plans that are in some way counter to your parenting agreement.
- Cooperate with the child's other parent. All relationships, even those between divorced parents, are two-way streets. By cooperating during the holidays, your ex-spouse may be more prone to cooperate with you down the line.
- Be flexible about extended family members. For example, if cousins or grandparents from your ex's side are in town, arrange for the children to spend time with them.
- Approach gifting with a united front. You may choose to share in the children's gift buying, or you can divvy up gift buying ahead of time. Whichever you choose, lavish gifts from one parent and sparse gifts from another will likely only confuse and upset your child.
Holidays can be stressful for any family, and navigating a new family structure can make this stress much worse. An experienced family law attorney can help you choose the best visitation schedule for your child; meanwhile, careful planning with your ex-spouse can help you celebrate the season with your children's best interests intact.