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The holiday season, custody and divorce: How to make it all work

| Sep 22, 2021 | Child Custody |

The holiday season is fast approaching. For most parents, the annual stress of the season gets balanced out by the joy of seeing the holidays through their children’s eyes.

However, when you’re going through a divorce, the holiday season can take on a different tone. Conflicts and frustrations are common, but planning ahead can help you keep the peace.

Here’s how to make the holidays happy for everyone involved

The first year following your breakup with your co-parent is usually the hardest. Everything is new, and emotions may still be raw. Here’s how to eliminate a lot of stress:

Put your plans in writing — and make sure you understand them

There are several different ways to manage the holiday season. You can:

  • Share time so that your child spends half of every holiday with each parent
  • Rotate time so that your child spends alternate holidays with each parent
  • Split the days, meaning your child will spend fixed holidays with each parent (like Christmas with your co-parent and Hanukkah with you)
  • Duplicate holidays, meaning your child celebrates Thanksgiving with your co-parent on the actual date and Thanksgiving with you on the following Saturday

There’s no right custody plan for every family. Generally, if you and your co-parent can agree on a system that works for you both, the court will permit you to follow your own plan. If you can’t agree, you may need to press your custody rights in court.

Ask your co-parent to work with you on visits with extended family

The holidays are all about family, and your child’s extended family may want to visit with them. That can become complicated if, for example, Grandma and Grandpa are only in town on the night that your ex has custody.

Again, planning ahead can minimize your problems. As long as you’re willing to be flexible in return with your time, your co-parent may be willing to shift their time with your child around to accommodate special visits.

Custody disputes can quickly get heated during the holiday season, especially during the first year or so after couples split. If your custody issues seem to be about to boil over, it may be wisest to quietly explore your legal options.