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Tips for Co-Parenting During the Holidays

Posted on in Child Custody

Wheaton family law attorneysThe holidays are upon us, which often means special family traditions. After a divorce, however, parents have to share time with their children. This often means also splitting time with extended family members or out-of-town relatives. Maintaining certain traditions or activities can become complicated. For kids who are shuttling between two houses, it is important for both parents to think about their children’s feelings and best interests. They must be willing to compromise when circumstances warrant a change to the routine. In Illinois, a parenting plan can outline a schedule for time with kids during the school year as well as summer or holiday breaks.  

Check Your Parenting Plan

A parenting plan is a legally binding document indicating parental responsibilities (child custody), such as decision-making for a child and the parenting time (visitation) that each parent will have with the child. Most parenting plans will include provisions that address where the child will spend their holidays.

Your parenting plan could specify that your children will alternate years with each parent on major holidays. For example, your plan might indicate that your children will spend Thanksgiving with you and Christmas with the other parent this year, but next year, they will be the other parent for Thanksgiving and with you for Christmas. 

You could also structure your plan in such a way that the children will spend part of each holiday with both parents. Finally, if you and your spouse are able to cooperate and communicate, your plan could allow you to make fair arrangements on your own each year. 

Advice for Handling Holiday Schedules

As you prepare for the holiday season, here are some tips to consider:

  • Plan ahead: Thinking about a change in schedules ahead of time can help in easing the transitions for the kids. Pre-planning can save time and arguments and communicating changes will help avoid disputes. This can also help with gift giving so you and your ex do not buy the same gifts. 
  • Be flexible: Co-parenting involves collaboration with your ex-spouse. Be willing to cooperate and respect the other parent’s desires and to express your own. Talk to your ex in a civil manner and model appropriate behavior for your children. 
  • Consider the children’s wishes: Holiday functions that you may want to attend may be different from what your kids wish to do. Be sensitive to their needs and desires during this time. Holidays after a divorce can bring out emotions that may not have surfaced before. Be patient and understanding by putting yourself in your kids’ shoes. The end of your relationship is a loss for them, too.
  • Expect the unexpected: Friends or family may make surprise visits or spur-of-the-moment gatherings during the winter holidays. Be aware that situations may necessitate a change in scheduling, such as when a child gets sick and one parent has to take off work to care for him or her. 
  • Do not put the kids in the middle: Never make your children take sides or choose between you and your ex-spouse. Do not use the kids as messengers either; keep communication on important issues private between you and your ex. Also, do not take out anger or frustration with your ex by talking derogatorily about him or her in front of your children.  
  • Start new traditions: Old habits can be hard to break. Baking cookies or decorating the Christmas tree might be activities you did as a family before the divorce. Make new memories by creating new traditions with your kids, such as volunteering or caroling at a nursing home, attending a musical, or trying a new recipe together.

Contact a DuPage County Divorce Lawyer

The end of a marriage under any circumstances can be challenging, but when children are involved, it can be even more difficult. It is important to consider that holidays may disrupt the normal routine. If you and your spouse cannot come to an agreement regarding child-related issues such as parenting time, an experienced divorce attorney can help. A compassionate Wheaton parenting time attorney will work with you to ensure your parental rights are protected when creating a parenting plan. Call Anderson & Associates today at 630-653-9400 to schedule your 





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