Navigating the Holidays: A Divorced Parents Guide

Life after divorce is different for everyone who goes through a divorce. One aspect of life after divorce that many people have in common, however, is the stress that comes along with getting through the holidays. The holidays can be particularly difficult if you are a divorced parent.  To help minimize your stress this year, a Murfreesboro divorce lawyer at Bennett | Michael | Hornsby offers divorced parents a guide to help navigate the holidays.

Suggestions to Help Divorced Parents Get Through the Holidays 

It is impossible to ignore the impact the holidays have on both the parents and the children after a divorce. While that impact may lessen with time, there may always be a certain amount of tension and stress when you are a divorced parent trying to navigate the holiday season. Keep in mind, however, that while you may be feeling confused, depressed, lost, or sad…your children are likely feeling the same emotions. In addition, the kids may be feeling guilty about wanting to be with one parent or the other for their holiday break. Instead of allowing all those negative feelings to creep into your holidays this year, try some of the following suggestions to get your holiday season back on track:

  • Make sure you understand the terms of your Parenting Plan. A Parenting Plan should be part of your final divorce decree. That plan typically determines where the kids will be during the holidays each year. While some parents deviate from that plan by mutual agreement, the plan provides the default schedule as ordered by the court. Keep in mind that you can be held in contempt (as can your former spouse) if you fail to abide by the terms of that plan. Make sure you are clear on the terms contained in the plan.
  • Address any legal issues early.  If you foresee a problem with the terms of the Parenting Plan as they apply to the holidays, address the potential problem early on by consulting with a divorce attorney. Courts slow down during the holidays, making it unlikely that a last-minute motion filed with the court will be addressed before the holidays.
  • Commit to having only positive interactions with your former spouse.  If your divorce was amicable, you are fortunate and do not need to worry about this one; however, if you had a contentious divorce, the holidays can be especially difficult for you. Remember, that means the holidays may also be especially difficult for your children. With that in mind, make a commitment to keeping this positive and pleasant with your former spouse for a specific amount of time surrounding the holidays…and stick to it! This is possibly the best gift you can give your kids this holiday season.
  • Communicate with the other parent about schedules, gifts, and traditions.  Navigating the holidays means shuttling kids between households, making sure you do not duplicate gifts, sharing traditions or creating new ones, and a multitude of other practical considerations. To prevent conflicts, communicate with your former spouse and discuss these details and issues ahead of time. 
  • Listen to your kids. If your children are old enough, they likely have some definitive opinions about the holidays and what will make them better for them. Listen to what they want and need and accommodate those wishes to the extent possible. If they want to spend more time with the other parent, consider letting them do that. If they want to keep a specific tradition alive with you, try and make that happen. Doing what you can to make the holidays better for your kids will ultimately make them better for you as well.

Contact Murfreesboro Family Lawyers

If you have questions or concerns about divorce in Tennessee, contact a Murfreesboro divorce lawyer at Bennett | Michael | Hornsby as soon as possible to discuss your options by calling 615-898-1560 to schedule your appointment.

Stan Bennett
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