Raising children is no easy job. When you are divorced, knowing what parenting methods work best, with whom the child should spent the most time, and how to divide up holidays can make child-rearing even more complicated. But being divorced does not mean that you are a bad parent or that your child has to miss out on certain things. Rather, it just means that you and your ex-spouse need to find more creative solutions to making things work well for everyone.
Undoubtedly, one of those solutions will revolve around how to celebrate the holidays with the kids after divorce. Here are some tips to help guide you when making determination about child custody over the holidays.
Make a Plan in Advance
Whatever it is that you and your ex-spouse agree to, make sure you make a plan for it well in advance. Do not wait until the last minute to decide with whom your kids will spend the holiday, how time will be divided on days off, etc.
Instead, make sure there is a clear-cut plan plenty of time in advance, and share this plan with your child so that there are no surprises. By making a plan well in advance, you can be sure that everyone knows what to expect when the holiday arrives.
Divide Holidays Fairly
Both you and your ex-spouse are likely to have certain holidays that are very important to you, and certain holiday traditions that have been in your family for years. When it comes times to divide up holidays (and you do not have a court order dictating who gets what), try to divide things as fairly as possible.
Love New Year’s Eve but do not usually do much for Thanksgiving? Have to work during the Martin Luther King three-day weekend? Know that your ex-spouse loves Easter? The more equitable holiday division is, the happier everyone will be.
Consider Sharing Holidays
There are two basic ways to handle dividing time during the holidays. First, one parent gets the entire holiday or holiday weekend. For example, Halloween is spent with mom, Memorial Day weekend is spent with dad.
The second most common way to share holidays is instead of dividing up the holidays, dividing up the holiday days. In other words, your children get to spend time with both you and your ex-spouse on all holidays. Maybe you get the kids Christmas morning, but your ex-spouse gets the kids for Christmas dinner. Dividing holidays like this can help children to feel as if they are truly getting the best of both worlds.
While it can be difficult to do, and should only be reserved for couples who had an amicable separation and are on good terms, you may also consider spending the holidays all together. While this is impossible for some parents, it works very well for others.
Negotiate Privately and Respectfully
Sometimes, splitting holiday time will take some negotiation skills. This is normal. However, remember that negotiations do not have to turn ugly. You have the power to negotiate in a way that is firm, but respectful.
Avoid yelling, name-calling, and belittling, and never put down your ex-spouse or engage in a fight with your ex-spouse in front of your child. All of your negotiating about holiday time should be done privately and civilly. If this is challenging for you, your ex-spouse, or both of you, consider seeking professional help from a mediator or counselor.
Do Not Make Your Child Choose
Do not make your child choose with whom he or she most wishes to spend the holidays. Your child loves both you and your ex-spouse. Making your child choose with whom he or she wants to spend time can make your child feel stressed, anxious, and guilty.
Furthermore, if your child does express interest in spending the holidays with your ex-spouse, be positive about this. It is a good thing that your child loves both parents. Do not try to make your child feel guilty for this.
Refer Back to Your Parenting Plan
If you and your spouse put together a parenting plan during your divorce (as you most likely did) refer back to it to see what is says about holidays. Oftentimes, in the event of a disagreement, a parenting plan can offer an obvious answer to who gets to spend time with the child.
If you do not have a parenting plan for some reason or if you believe that your parenting plan needs to be amended, you can seek changes, but you should know that the process can be lengthy and complicated. A Raleigh child custody lawyer can help you do this.
Best Practices for Handling the Holidays after Divorce
Handling the holidays after divorce can be emotional and stressful, especially if it is the first time that you are not spending that holiday with your child. While you may be feeling a bit blue, try to stay positive and focus on the times you do get to spend with your child, and all of the things that you and your child can do together to commemorate the holidays. While letting your child act as your shoulder to cry on or ear to turn to can be tempting, avoid the urge. This is unhealthy for both you and your child.
Best practices for handling the holidays after divorce include making a plan in advance, dividing up holidays fairly, negotiating privately and respectfully, never putting your child in the middle, and referring back to your parenting plan when you do not know what is best.
How Raleigh Child Custody Lawyers Can Help You
Co-parenting during the holidays may feel daunting, but you are not alone. If you have questions about child custody, your parenting plan, or enforcement orders, the experienced Wake County family lawyers at Charles R. Ullman & Associates, PLLC are ready to meet with you today. To schedule a consultation to learn more about handling the holidays after divorce, contact our divorce lawyers in Raleigh today at 866-885-4831.