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Planning Your First Thanksgiving After A Separation: Who Gets To Take The Kids To Grandma And Grandpa's?

DiPietro Law Group, PLLC

The first holiday season after divorce is by far the most difficult, and it all begins with the awkwardness of Thanksgiving dinner. The support of your family can make you feel a lot better at this difficult time, but first, you’ll need to determine who spends Thanksgiving where.

Options For Dividing Up Thanksgiving

Before you and your ex decide where to bring your kids on Thanksgiving, you need to understand the full range of options. The following are a few preferred approaches:

  • One parent always takes the kids on Thanksgiving. This works best if one of the parents doesn’t particularly care about Thanksgiving, one gets stuck working on Thanksgiving, or if one parent opts for another holiday instead of Thanksgiving.
  • Parents can choose to alternate years. One year, one of the parents can take the kids for the entire day of Thanksgiving, with the other parent taking over the following year. This is the best choice for parents who both want to celebrate Thanksgiving with their kids, but live too far away from one another for multiple visits on the same day to be practical.
  • Parents can split the day of Thanksgiving. One can take the kids in the morning and the early afternoon, and the other can have the kids for the remainder of the day. This approach will only work if the parents — and whomever they choose to visit — live reasonably close together.
  • This may seem unbelievable, but many parents who remain on good terms after their divorce actually spend Thanksgiving together. Their goal is to make the day a family holiday, and many succeed in that regard.

Making a Decision

Ultimately, Thanksgiving is not about you or your spouse — it’s about your kids. You need to make a decision that will allow for the best possible day for your children. You want them to make lifelong memories of a wonderful holiday, but if you spend your time bickering about who spends time where, all they’ll remember is the endless arguing. Remember, you can always arrange a second holiday celebration that’s not actually on the day of Thanksgiving.

If you and your ex absolutely cannot come to an agreement regarding where and how your children spend the holiday, you may need assistance from a mediator. A neutral third party can help both of you focus on what really matters: the well-being of your children. If mediation doesn’t work, it’s best to have a judge settle the issue. Avoidance is the worst approach — it will come back to bite you and your family.

Whether you resolve your differences through mediation or litigation, you’ll need support from a Maryland lawyer who understands the complexities of custody and visitation. Contact DiPietro Family Law today to learn more.

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