In a perfect world, you’d be able to plan your entire life and everything would happen in accordance with your plan. The reality is that life often “throws a curve ball,” meaning that you encounter challenges or situations that you weren’t expecting or that are out of your control. For instance, you might not have expected to be adapting to life after divorce during the holidays.
When you informed your children that you were getting a divorce, you may have discussed ways to help each other cope with the situation and cause the least amount of disruption possible in their lives. As you celebrate your first holiday season after divorce, there are several things to keep in mind to avoid co-parenting stress.
Clear communication is a key to low-stress holidays after a divorce
Having a conversation with your ex might not top your list of “favorite things to do.”However, the more the two of you discuss ahead of time regarding the holidays, the less likely it might be that a child custody problem will arise. Family life changes after divorce; you have to make decisions about issues that weren’t relevant when you were married, such as where your children will wake up on Christmas morning and where they’ll spend New Year’s Eve, etc.
Not only can you and your ex thoroughly discuss such issues, you can incorporate terms of agreement into your child custody order. You’re less likely to argue over holiday issues if there’s a set schedule in place.
Kids don’t want to receive duplicate gifts
Another issue that can cause kids stress after a divorce or, at least, make them feel awkward, is getting “two” of everything on their gift list. As co-parents, you and your ex can agree ahead of time who will buy which gifts. It’s also less stressful if you agree on the financial aspect of a holiday season, such as who will cover expenses. Will you divide them equally or simply pay for your own gifts or celebrations that take place in your own home?
A court order must be obeyed
Perhaps you have a child custody order that states that your children are to be in your custody on the weekends. Just because a holiday happens to fall on a weekend doesn’t mean that your ex can take it upon himself or herself to change the game plan and not transfer custody at the agreed-upon time. In fact, neither parent can modify a court order in any way, unless they file a petition to request a change and the court grants the request.
As you navigate your first holiday season after a divorce, you no doubt hope that your ex will cooperate and will adhere to the terms of your child custody agreement. If that doesn’t happen, you can be proactive to resolve the issue as swiftly as possible by bringing it to the court’s attention.