Holidays can be stressful for everyone, but this is particularly the case for divorced parents with minor children. You can ease this tension and still make the most of the holiday season by planning ahead and avoiding conflict with your child’s other parent. When custodial or parental conflict exists, the courts may need to step in to decide how children will spend time during the holidays.
Put Your Children First
The Washington State family law courts use a standard that puts the best interest of the child first. It should go without saying that both parents should be using the same standard in their decision-making.
When it comes to the holidays, try to avoid getting caught up in petty squabbles with your ex-spouse. This isn’t the time to best your ex when it comes to your preference for visitation scheduling. Holidays provide you with the opportunity to make lasting memories with your children.
Celebrating Together vs. Celebrating Separately
There are many different ways to handle the holidays as a divorced family with children. Ultimately, the schedule that works for you will depend largely upon your relationship with your ex and the type of co-parenting agreement you have established.
Some families choose to come together during major holidays to spend time with the children as a group. For some parents, this can work well. Neither parent needs to sacrifice time with the children during a major holiday, and it can even help mend some old wounds. But this solution isn’t for everyone.
Other families handle the holidays by alternating. For example, one parent might have an “even year,” and the other will have an “odd year.” In other words, major holidays are split between the parents each year.
If it can be worked out, some parents will also agree to split holidays. So one parent might have the children for the first half of Christmas Day, and the other has them for the second half. This is a more complex arrangement that can lead to disagreements as well as disruptions for the children. But this arrangement does work for some families.
While some of these scenarios can be complicated and lead to stress, they should have one goal in mind — the best interest of the children. One of the ways that you can avoid surprises and disappointments is to plan ahead.
Set Up Your Holiday Schedule Now
Divorced parents are well versed in making plans with their ex, particularly when it comes to holiday visitation schedules with your children. Each parent may have their own individual approach to major holidays and celebrations. You may have a particular attachment to Memorial Day, while your ex doesn’t have much of a preference.
If you find that there is one holiday that is particularly important to both parents, remain open-minded and try to find cooperative solutions that will satisfy everyone and work out in the best interest of your children. Flexibility and compromise are keys to success in creating a holiday schedule that works.
Once you and your ex have agreed to a holiday schedule, use a shared calendar to document it immediately. As each holiday approaches, speak with your children early about where they will be spending their time so that there are no surprises.
If you’re having trouble working with your ex on this matter, or you need assistance enforcing your holiday and birthday visitation, consider contacting an attorney. AB Law’s Tacoma family law attorneys can help with divorce, child custody, support, and visitation issues as well as enforcement matters.
Contact us today for a free consultation.