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Scheduling the holidays after divorce

The holiday season is a time to sing well-beloved Christmas carols, eat memory-rich food, spend time with those you hold dear and offer gifts to the ones you love most. After divorce, this time of year can become tricky with children, deciding who gets which days, scheduling pick-ups and drop-offs, and determining how to handle presents. This year, the best gift you can give your kids is peaceful, happy memories with both parents, together or separately.

Plan ahead

The best way to get through the holidays with joy is by deciding on a plan ahead of time and sticking to it. If the details are not outlined in your child custody arrangement or you are still going through the divorce process, consider meeting with an attorney or mediator to help you both conside rately decide on a schedule that works for everyone. Once it is agreed upon, try not to change the details, even when things come up that you really want to take your kids to. Also, both partners need to agree to set pick-up/drop-off times and locations.

No fighting

The best way to keep the holiday cheer going strong is to commit to bury any negative feelings. If your partner is usually late, instead of being annoyed, plan on it happening and, for the sake of your children, do not get upset. Your kids can sense the feelings and will be more likely to stay away from the contentious parent as they get older and can choose where to spend their holidays.

Consider options

There are many different ways you can schedule the holidays with your children. Discuss each with your ex and determine which will work best for all of you.

  • Half-day split: Some families choose to split each holiday in half. Kids can spend the morning at one parent's house on a holiday, then go to the other parent's house for the evening.
  • Full-day split: Other families choose to have the children spend one full day at one house and another full holiday with the other parent.
  • Multi-day split: Rushing back and forth to different houses can be exhausting for parents and children, so some families choose to have the kids spend a few days or more around a big holiday with one parent each year. This can be a successful arrangement for the parents as well, who are allowed to go on a vacation on the years they have off.

Whether you celebrate Kwanzaa, Hanukkah or Christmas, calmly working with a legal professional to set up the best schedule for your family can make the holiday season a wonderful experience for everyone.

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