Custody and Visitation: Post-Divorce Holiday Planning

If you believe what you see in department stores, the holiday season has been in full swing for months. At this point, Ebenezer Scrooge himself could hardly deny that the holidays are now right around the corner. For divorced parents, it may be a season of unpredictable emotions as they find themselves trying to negotiate holiday plans and arrangements for their children. Stress, anger, and resentment may threaten to overshadow the happiness and joy of the holidays for those who are not prepared.

Plan Early and Communicate

Some custody and visitation orders specify with whom children should be spending the holidays. Others do not address the situation at all. Either way, try to cooperate with your ex to get a plan in place as soon as possible and be specific. This can help to prepare yourself as well as the children for the upcoming events. For example, if everyone knows the kids will be with Dad on Christmas Eve overnight and then go to Mom’s Christmas afternoon, it is easier to prepare emotionally and logistically for the day. There is also nothing wrong with planning some sort of alternating holiday arrangement, in which case, you may have next year’s plan already made as well.

Keep It About the Children

Regardless of the relationship you have with your ex-spouse, your children deserve the best possible holiday experience. Sometimes that may mean making difficult decisions to maximize their enjoyment, even at your own expense. Allowing the kids to stay a little longer or an extra day with your ex may be tough on you, but might be better than interrupting their celebration. Additionally, keeping the holidays about the children does not mean simply showering them with expensive gifts. Spending time together as a family and enjoying holiday traditions can be the most special part of the season. Your time and attention are more valuable to your children than anything that can wrapped be in shiny paper.

Be Patient

Even with the best of planning and intentions, there are going to be things that do not go as expected. A heavy snowstorm could delay transportation. A child, parent, or relative may get sick, causing a holiday meal to be moved. Make a concerted effort to keep yourself calm and patient when things beyond your control do not cooperate. This is especially important in regard to your ex-spouse, since hostility in front of the children is not in anybody’s best interest. If your ex is late dropping the kids off to you because they got held up at a relative’s house, try to let it go this time in the spirit of the holiday season.

If you live in Illinois and your children’s needs are not being met by a custody or visitation order, contact an experienced DuPage County family law attorney. Your family’s well-being is our top priority and we can help you make sure your agreement is appropriate for your unique situation.