One of the biggest changes in your family life after divorce may be the way you spend your holidays. If you and your former spouse grew used to going all out and hosting large gatherings for your friends and family in Arizona, your first years of Christmas and other major holidays following divorce may take a bit of getting used to. Especially where your children are concerned, it’s important to remember that you are the one who got divorced, not them.
If your kids look forward to seeing their cousins, grandparents and other relatives during the holidays, they will likely hope you and their other parent allow them to keep doing so even though you’re no longer married. Good intentions and bringing a plan to fruition, however, are two entirely different things. If your former spouse is not willing to cooperate and compromise, incorporating holidays into your custody plan may be quite challenging.
Ideas that may help
When you divorced your spouse, you did not abdicate your rights as a parent. The court is typically of the opinion that most children adapt to post divorce lifestyles more easily if they are able to spend a lot time with both parents. The following list includes recommendations that may help you keep stress levels to a minimum at Christmas and during other holidays throughout the year:
- Write down your plan and sign it: Even if you and your former spouse are on friendly terms, it’s not usually a good idea to arrange your holiday parenting plan around mere verbal discussions. You can say that you will have the kids at Christmas and your spouse will get them at Easter, but if you don’t get that in writing, sign it and seek the court’s approval, it can all go wrong very quickly when unexpected issues arise.
- Take kids’ time with relatives into consideration: If your parents usually host a sleepover for all their grandchildren during Christmas break from school, then it might not make much sense for them to be scheduled to visit their other parent at that time. With careful planning (and getting it all in writing), you can help your kids keep the family traditions with their cousins that they’ve become accustomed to while you were married.
- Sharing time may be an option: If both parents are adamant about wanting to spend a certain holiday with the kids, you may be able to compromise by dividing the day into sections. From breakfast until a certain time, the kids can be with one parent, then spend the rest of the afternoon and evening with the other.
- Consider spending holidays together: Some parents agree to spend major holidays, such as Christmas or children’s birthdays, together with their kids. Your children may appreciate your willingness to set your differences aside for their sakes, and you may be able to cut down on the stress of trying to schedule separate visits.
The good news is there’s no one way to create a post-divorce holiday plan. You can devise whatever type of plan best suits your needs and ultimate goals as a family. There’s also no reason a plan has to be permanent although if a court order exists, it must be adhered until such time that the court grants modification and allows you to change the plan.
Many Arizona parents ask experienced family law attorneys to review their proposed holiday parenting plans before heading to court. Most attorneys are skilled negotiators who can help parents iron the wrinkles of a parenting plan.