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Handling the Holidays as a Separated or Divorced Parent

Written by: Michelle Kooy (View All Posts • View Bio ) Published: December 6, 2017
Categorized: Divorce, Family Law, Parenting, Separation.
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Holiday schedules as a divorced or separated parent

A significant challenge for most separated or divorced parents is determining a parenting schedule that works for everyone during the holidays.  It is a unique issue for each family as every family has their own respective values and traditions during the holidays.  The holiday parenting schedule is often further complicated by extended family’s expectations during the holiday season.  Issues around the holiday season also tend to be emotionally driven and worsened by stress.

Please don’t wait until December to determine the holiday schedule

Chances are if you are reading this, you’ve already at least thought about your holiday parenting schedule, or perhaps you have already argued about it.  Please consider raising the issue of holiday time well before December to ensure that both parents have an opportunity to consider these issues without the pressure and stress of the upcoming holidays.  Settling these arrangements well in advance also allows parents to make scheduling arrangements for holiday celebrations and travel if necessary.  For example, a very common disagreement is that extended families live far away requiring travel by one or both parents for visits during the holiday season.  These arrangements need to be made in advance.

What to do now if you don’t have a holiday parenting schedule?

Hopefully you have an agreement or court order that specifies holiday time and both parents are abiding by the arrangements and there are no extenuating circumstances.

If you don’t have an agreement or a court order that specifies holiday time, someone is not abiding by the court order, or there are special circumstances this year then you should know that December is an exceptionally busy time for the courts.  Therefore, effort by both parties should be made to discuss and hopefully resolve any holiday related issues outside of court.  You can try to discuss this directly with the other parent.

Keep in mind that the holiday season is a time to connect with family.  When it comes to children of separated or divorced parents this usually means an opportunity to connect with both sides of the family.  There will likely need to be some negotiation and ultimately compromise to determine what is best for the children.

You’ve tried everything and can’t agree?

Often parents come to see lawyers because they have tried and been unsuccessful in resolving these issues directly with the other parent.  Communication between separated and divorced parents is not always easy.  It may be that you need the assistance of a lawyer or a mediator to assist with these emotionally fueled conversations.  Or it may be that you need to have a conversation with a lawyer who can help explain the law and what your options are.

How can a lawyer help?

If you have questions about this holiday season or want to develop an ongoing parenting schedule for the holidays but don’t know where to start, a family lawyer can assist you through the process. To find out how one of our family lawyers could assist you, contact us for a free initial consultation.

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