The holiday season is coming up, and people are slowly getting back to normal activities, including families gathering for feasts and festivities. For some families this will be the first holiday season after a divorce or separation. When children are involved the logistics of having Thanksgiving dinner at mom’s and then a second meal at dad’s will take patience and cooperation. I have found that this new dynamic gets a little easier as each new year passes. One reason for this ease in tensions is because the co-parenting skills of both spouses get better, and their working relationship is less prone to emotional angst.
When a divorce is finalized a multi-page document called a divorce decree is approved by a family law judge and becomes legally binding on both parties going forward. One section of this decree stipulates where the children will spend each holiday – and in what years. For example, a typical scenario is where the mom has the kids every other Thanksgiving, and the dad has the kids every other Christmas in the spirit of rotation. Having all of this in writing ensures everyone follows the new rules, plus it lets the children know way ahead of time who they will spend a major holiday with. Divorced parents living in different cities have it a little harder because they must arrange and pay for airline travel.
And then there is the question of the in-laws. Grandparents on both sides will want to be with their grandkids during the holidays, but they will have to take turns like everyone else. This may sound daunting at first, so it helps to keep focused on why you filed for divorce in the first place, and that is to have a happier life.
As the years go by you can ask your attorney to help with a modification to the divorce decree. A judge will have to approve all proposed changes, for example, the mom asks to have the kids every spring break instead of every other year. It pays to establish a good co-parenting relationship with your ex-spouse because circumstances can change, and your ex may ask you if they can add a few days onto their Christmas vacation and return with the kids later than planned. It is a give and take relationship, and the kids should be top priority. I wish you the very best this holiday season. You can do this!