Divorce can be a difficult journey, regardless of what time of year it may occur. However, the holidays can and often do make for added challenges when it comes to navigating new arrangements – especially when younger children are involved.
Whether you have a divorce case pending during the holidays, have recently finalized your divorce, or now face the first holiday season in your new life, you’re not alone in battling the various struggles that can arise when two former or soon-to-be ex-spouses share children.
At DiPietro Law Group, LLC, PLLC, our family law attorneys work with many clients and families who must navigate their divorce or related legal issues while also “holding down the fort” during the holidays, as well clients who inevitably face the holiday season following times of substantial change. To help you better cope while parenting your children, we’ve put together a list of helpful tips:
- Put the Children First – Parenting styles vary widely, but if there is any practical advice from child psychologists or people who have been in your shoes, it’s that children should always be put first. The holidays hold a special place in the hearts of kids, which is why you should always remember that how you deal with your former spouse, family, and your children can and very likely will have an impact on a child’s experience. By prioritizing the children, you may learn that sacrificing certain things, not “sweating the small stuff,” not using kids as weapons, and taking a more considerate approach in all you do can go a long way in making the most of the season.
- Consider Continuity – Though new arrangements mean inevitable change, it’s important to think about continuity for the sake of your children. This may not always be as easy as maintaining the same types of holiday plans or schedules you did previously, especially if they involved a former partner’s family, but there may be other things you can do. This may include sharing time with extended family and participating in traditions they’ve already created, with or without having both parents present. It may also involve keeping certain traditions you once did as a bigger family, such as making a favorite holiday meal or snack or creating new ones you can continue to do for years to come. Divorce ultimately does mean change, but it’s still important to consider how such change will affect your kids, and act accordingly.
- Know the Plan – From a more practical standpoint, it is important to have a plan for what the holidays will look like. If your divorce is still pending, this may require communication and compromise with your spouse, or it may necessitate a temporary child custody / visitation order that clearly lays out the ground rules. For divorces that have already been finalized, parents still have the ability to effectively communicate with one another and make compromises about how they can split or share time with the children during the holidays. Child custody agreements may also include specific plans for what the holidays will look like, and how time will be shared.
- Think About Presents – No matter what you celebrate, holidays often mean presents for children. While it may not seem like a major issue, gift giving can actually turn south quite easily, especially when parents don’t communicate with one another about what they’re getting, attach strings to presents and where they must be used, or buy presents as an act of resentment or spite against the other parent. Remember to make your present-related decisions about the kids, and, if possible, communicate with the other parent to ensure you’re on the same page. This may involve setting a budget you both agree too, sharing the bill for a larger ticket item, or finding other workable solutions.
- Enjoy the Season – There’s no requirement that you have a happy, jolly holiday, nor that you shouldn’t have complicated feelings this time of year while divorcing or after a divorce. Still, it is important to remember that how you handle the holidays yourself can rub off on your children. For their sake, child psychologists recommend prioritizing the positive about this time of year. Whether that means spending more time with certain family, creating new traditions, or preserving some status quo is up to you.
The holidays are in many cases an issue many divorcing spouses don’t think of until they arrive. By taking some time to reflect on what’s most important during this time of year, you can make the most of the holidays for your children. If you do require legal assistance, or believe you’ll be ready to initiate the process after the holidays, our divorce attorneys at DiPietro Law Group, PLLC are available to provide the representation you need to navigate the journey.
Call (888) 530-4374 or contact us online to schedule a personalized review of your case. Our firm has multiple office locations in Fairfax, Friendship Heights, Annapolis, and Washington, DC.