If you recently have gone through divorce, or will be soon and have already be separated, you are already in the process of adjusting into the lifestyle of co-parenting children with separate households. Maintaining several schedules can be a daunting task, especially when parenting is already a juggling act.
Coping, maintaining and managing a co-parenting life can make you often feel overwhelmed and many find themselves ill-prepared for the process. Here are some tips to keep you focused and organized during the holidays.
A Few Things to Consider
First and foremost, communication is key in order to maintain a co-parenting schedule. Both parents have to agree to many things including, but not limited to, when the children spend time with each parent, school, extracurricular activities, parties, holidays, etc. If you haven’t yet, it would be wise to talk about the holidays and how both you and your ex-spouse plan on spending the holidays this year. Make it so that you’re also open to suggestions from your children. This may be their only time to vent or share some insights that you may not have considered. Most divorced parents should already have a detailed parenting plan that addresses holiday time. If you don’t, and you’ve had difficulty planning the holidays with the other parent, consider filing a Complaint for Modification. You can modify a divorce judgment to include holiday parenting if it was not included in the original divorce agreement.
After generally figuring out the plan, it is important to then figure out the specifics. There are many things that might be overlooked if you don’t explore the details. It is recommended to never have a child celebrate only with one parent for the holidays, even if the child seems to desire being with one parent. The child needs to develop their relationship with each parent. Typically, if a child spends too much time with one parent, feelings tend to get hurt and relationships strain.
When the holidays are fast approaching, be sure to set realistic expectations. This is especially true if you had extravagant traditions that may not be as financially feasible anymore. Maybe it was an annual trip to another state or country and now going on that trip would be an economic hardship. It’s best to set these new expectations sooner rather than later so that the child has time to cope with and adapt to these changes. This may be a challenge for a parent to make the decision and tell the child they are not going on a trip. However, it has to happen at some point, so might as well share these expectations sooner.
Perhaps you cannot enjoy every family tradition now that you are divorced or separated, but you should ask yourself what traditions can still be kept? Is it time that your family starts a new tradition? Regardless of how major or minor the adjustments may be, it is important to start new traditions with both households. Putting it off won’t make things better and it won’t “go away.” Traditions coincide with what is routine and children perform best and are typically happier when there’s routine.
In closing, a well-thought-out schedule during separation and / or divorce is really the ideal way to co-parent during the holidays. This will make things less stressful and more enjoyable for everyone involved. If this seems to be too daunting of task, please feel free to contact Fernandez, Socci & Nieves Family Law so that we can help put together your plan for the holidays and the New Year.
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