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Navigating holidays after your divorce

Many people see Halloween as the kick-off to the holiday season. Before we know it, Thanksgiving and Christmas will be upon us.

For divorced parents and their families, the holiday season can bring even more stress. Many parents might wonder how they will divide time with their children for these busy celebrations, or how they will arrange celebrations in the first place.

Here are a few things that parents should consider for this upcoming holiday season. 

Refer to your parenting schedule

When parents divorce or separate, they often must create a parenting plan or agreement in addition to their custody agreement. Parents can include as many details as they wish in their parenting agreement, but the primary purpose of the agreement is to arrange the parenting schedule for the future

This includes holidays. And there are many ways that parents can arrange holidays in their parenting schedule, including:

  • Designating specific days: Parents can determine which days they want to spend with their children. For example, one parent might want Christmas Eve with their children, and the other can have Christmas Day. Parents can also plan to ensure the children can celebrate with both parents and their extended families.
  • Alternating years: In other cases, parents might switch the holidays they have with their children each year. For example, a parent gets Thanksgiving with the children one year. The next year, the other parent has that holiday.

Usually, parents will have their parenting agreement to refer to in these cases to determine how they will move forward. However, it is helpful to revisit this agreement regularly and ensure it still meets the family's current needs.

Make sure the children know the plan

Most parents want their children to have a good experience during the holidays. So, parents should discuss the plans for the holidays with their children. Parents can ask children what they want to do and let them have a say in the holiday plans. 

When parents are open with both their co-parent and their children, the holiday season can go a lot smoother.

It is even more important than usual to avoid parental competition

Regardless of the arrangement parents agree on, they should take measures to avoid competing with each other around the holidays. We have discussed the dangers of parental competition in past blog posts, but the holidays can increase the chances of competition through gifts or celebrations. This often only increases the stress for both parents and their children during the holidays.

Here at Bowen Ten Cardani, PC, we can help Virginia families navigate the challenges during and after divorce and create a parenting agreement that best meets their family's needs.

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