If you are in the process of divorce, or you are newly divorced, the holidays can be particularly difficult to navigate, especially if you have children. Trying to figure out how to make the holidays enjoyable and carefree for your children and as stress-free as possible for yourself can be a tall order to fulfill. To help you, a Murfreesboro divorce attorney at Bennett | Michael | Hornsby offers tips for newly divorced parents who are co-parenting during the holidays.
Who Gets the Kids When and How?
The first challenge you need to address is your children’s holiday schedule. Whether you are in the process of divorce or recently divorced, there should be a temporary or permanent court order in place that addresses parenting time during the holidays. The most common holiday schedules are:
- Alternating holidays. This schedule allows you to have the children on certain holidays this year while your former spouse has the kids on the remaining holidays. Next year, you will switch holidays. For example, you might have the children on Christmas Eve this year and your former spouse has them on Christmas Day. Next year, your former spouse has them Christmas Eve and you have them Christmas Day.
- Fixed holidays. Sometimes parents agree that the kids will always be with one parent on a specific holiday. This is commonly used for Mother’s and Father’s Day and parents’ birthdays but can also work if one parent does not celebrate a holiday that the other parent does recognize.
- Shared holidays. This option only works well when the parents live close together as it involves splitting the day in half. For instance, the kids might be at your house until 3:00 on Thanksgiving and then go to the other parent’s house for the rest of the day.
- Family holidays. For divorced parents who maintain a good relationship, continuing to spend holidays together, as a family, is always an option.
The same court order that determines where the children will spend the holidays should indicate who is responsible for transporting the children between homes. If anything about the basic holiday schedule is unclear to you, go over it with your divorce attorney now to avoid problems once the holidays are in full swing.
Holiday Co-Parenting Tips
While making sure that the overall holiday parenting time schedule is clear should be your first priority, there are several additional tips that can make co-parenting during the holidays a little easier for everyone involved, such as:
- Talk to your kids. If this is the first year that your children will be navigating two households during the holidays, they are probably anxious about how things will work. Sit down with them and give them age-appropriate information so they have some idea what to expect. Try to be positive and focus on double the holiday fun and explain that you are still a family even though the logistics have changed.
- Co-ordinate gifting. If you have an amicable relationship with your former spouse, try to co-ordinate major gifts so that you do not both purchase the same gift or purchase competing gifts.
- Buy or make gifts from your child. In years past, you undoubtedly helped your children shop for (or make) gifts for their other parent during the holidays. While you may not be thrilled about the prospect of spending your money on your former spouse this year, remember that your children still want to give that parent a gift. If money is tight, help your child make something special so that your child doesn’t feel even more anxious showing up without a gift for his/her parent.
- Be willing to compromise. The holidays are a hectic and often stressful time for everyone. They can be even more so for divorced parents who are co-parenting, especially for the first couple of years. Be prepared to be flexible and to compromise when necessary to make the holidays run as smoothly as possible this year.
- Make plans for your alone time. While your children are spending time with their other parent, you will be without them. This can be particularly difficult after spending many years together as a family during the holidays. Take this opportunity to plan some self-care activities such as a spa day, time out with friends, or even a day at home with a good book or a movie marathon.
Contact a Murfreesboro Divorce Lawyer
If you have questions or concerns about how to handle co-parenting during the holidays, consult with an experienced Murfreesboro divorce lawyer at Bennett | Michael | Hornsby as soon as possible. Contact the team today by calling 615-898-1560 to schedule your free appointment.
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