Nothing seems to make divorce easier, and the holidays certainly do a good job of emphasizing that. Emotions, sentimentality, and grief over the relationship can be highest during the winter holidays, particularly when you have shared children with who you still want to experience holidays to the fullest. Hopefully, it helps to know that you are not alone. Thousands of parents each year go through divorce and find new ways to balance and celebrate the holidays with their children. Below, we will provide you with some tips for doing so.
How to Survive the Holidays with Your Children During a Divorce
Find time to decompress.
Holidays can be a stressful time for any parent, but the pressure can seem infinitely higher when you are tasked with compartmentalizing your own pain, stress, and feelings to put on a happy face for your little one. Even if you set aside a few moments a day to scream into a pillow, make sure you are allowing yourself to process the emotions that are coming up.
Make new traditions.
It likely will not be possible to maintain the exact same holiday traditions that you had when you were married, so instead of tasking yourself with a doomed mission of recreating past holidays to perfection, try having fun introducing new traditions.
Make a holiday visitation schedule.
During the child custody process, you and your co-parent will be tasked with creating a custody and visitation schedule as part of a parenting plan. This schedule determines when each parent has custody of the child and when they are permitted to visit. Parents can create and agree to a schedule on their own, or if they are unable to agree, a judge can do it for them. A holiday visitation schedule can be created at the same time. This schedule supersedes the standard visitation schedule if they are in conflict, and decides in advance how holidays will be handled. Because children cannot be in two places at once, and some holidays fall on just one day, there can be certain inherent challenges in trying to plan out a holiday parenting schedule fairly. However, some common options involve having the child spend alternate holidays with each parent, for instance, spending Christmas with mom in 2021 and with dad in 2022, and so on.
Another option is permanently designating certain holidays for each parent. This may make sense, say if the parents are of different religions and would like to spend their religious holidays with the child. For instance, one parent may get Christian holidays and one parent Jewish holidays. Of course, in this situation, the parents would also want to stipulate how it would be handled if Christmas fell during Hanukkah. Finally, if the geographic locations of the parents permit, the holiday may be split so that part of the day is spent with one parent and the other part of the holiday with the other. If you and your co-parent have an alternative proposition for how you would like to spend or allocate the holidays you are welcome to come to your own agreement and submit it to the court for approval, which will be granted provided the judge finds that it is in the best interest of the child.
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If you are going through a divorce and have questions or require legal assistance, the experienced Missouri Divorce and Child Custody attorneys at the Johnson Law Firm are ready to help. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.