1. Plan a Schedule
If you haven't already planned a holiday schedule, it is important you take the steps to do so soon. There are a number of ways parents can share the holiday season with their children. Parents should work together to find a schedule that works best for their families.
A few examples are:
- Split the winter break evenly, with one parent having the first half up until and including Christmas Eve, and the second parent having the second half starting on Christmas Day.
- Split Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, as well as New Year's Eve and New Year's Day, alternating annually.
2. Don't Leave Things Last Minute
If you haven't already planned a holiday schedule and foresee an issue arising, take the necessary steps to reach a prompt and cost-efficient solution right away. Book a meeting with your counsellor, book a mediator, or contact your divorce lawyer with sufficient time to reach a resolution before the holidays (no less than three weeks' notice.) If you leave things last minute, you may find that you have no reasonable options available to find a solution in time for the holidays.
3. Follow Agreements
If you already have a separation or parenting agreement in place, pull it up and review your holiday clauses. Make sure you understand your rights and obligations and follow your agreement. If you are unclear about the meaning of something, ask. If necessary, seek legal advice. Do not assume or leave things unresolved. It is better to get clarification upfront rather than experience chaos or confusion, which can have lasting implications on your case.
4. Put Your Children First
Whether you are thinking about what schedule to make over the holidays, or you are communicating as a parent, put the children at the forefront of your decision making and actions. Ask yourself, are you acting in a manner in the best interest of the children? Remember, sometimes the best interest of the children may go against your wishes.
3. Give the Gift of "Peace"
The best gift you can give your children, is a holiday season that is conflict free. Take the necessary steps to ensure smooth parenting exchanges, speak highly of the other parent, encourage the children to be excited about their experiences with their other family members, and do what you need to do to make the children feel safe and secure.
5. Obtain a Travel Authorization
There is nothing worse than planning a holiday adventure with your children outside of the country and you are unable to leave because you do not have a proper travel authorization. Avoid potential stress at the border and take the steps to obtain a travel authorization.
7. Remember, there is always next year!
Don't let yourself get overly stressed or caught up with the small details of the holidays. The holidays are about spending time with friends and family. If you do not end up seeing the children on the days you hoped, or things over the holidays are different than what you expected, remember there is always next year.
8. Don't be Naughty
If you are in the middle of litigation, do not stir up conflict or chaos over the holiday season. You want to focus on the big picture of your litigation and the final goal of reaching an overall resolution that is favorable to you. Be respectful and kind in all of your communications. If you have any doubts or questions, speak with your divorce lawyer promptly.