Handling the Holidays with Children after Divorce
Whether a family celebrates Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or just the winter season, the holidays will be very different following a divorce. However, it does not mean that the holidays will be impossible. In fact, certain steps can be taken to help keep everyone happy.
Have a Detailed Child Custody Agreement
The first and most important suggestion for handling the holidays after divorce is ensuring a child custody agreement specifically deals holiday arrangements. There is no "one-size-fits-all" approach. A decided schedule will depend entirely on the circumstances of each individual family.
Some couples choose to alternate holidays, with one parent having the children on Christmas in odd-numbered years and the other having the children in even-numbered years. Others may divide a holiday and have children spend part of the day with both parents. For example, one parent may spend Christmas Eve and Christmas morning with the children, while the other parent then spends the remainder of Christmas day with the children.
If parents live in different communities or different states, and splitting the day is impractical, the non-custodial parent may take the children during the entire two-week break. However, this time can be split into one-week segments. Or, parents may choose to alternate every other year.
When parents have religion differences, their children may spend the holiday with the parent who celebrates it. Hence, if a mother is Jewish and a father is Christian, the children may spend the Jewish holidays with their mother and Christmas with their father.
Have Realistic Expectations
Parents may have grand visions of being able to bury the hatchet so that both can spend Christmas morning together with their children. If spouses have an amicable split and are capable of being the same room together with no hostility, this can help make the holidays more joyous for everyone. But, this may be unrealistic for a number of reasons. Spouses may not have had an amicable split and — as much as they might want to spend the holiday together for the sake of their children — being apart may be better in the long run. Additionally, if an ex-spouse has remarried, the new spouse may be unwilling or unable to share the holidays.
Be Open and Flexible
As the years pass, holidays traditions may need to change. New siblings may come into the picture, and children may want to spend Christmas with them. If a parent remarries, the children may not want to spend the holidays with their new extended family and instead choose to be with the other parent and their grandparents, aunts, and uncles. In these situations, it is important to remember that the goal is to make the holidays as enjoyable as possible for everyone. Forcing children to participate in festivities, when they would rather be elsewhere, will only cause misery.
Consult a Palatine Child Custody Attorney
Divorce changes the family dynamic long after the agreement has been signed. With more than 10 years of experience handling divorce and child custody cases, Palatine child custody attorney Nicholas W. Richardson understands these changes. Whether you are currently drafting a child custody agreement and need help figuring out how to handle the holidays, or if circumstances have changed and you need to modify a current agreement, Nicholas W. Richardson can help. Contact the Palatine office today at 847.221.3626 to schedule a consultation.