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The holidays and your custody schedule: Making it work

Getting used to parenting and life after divorce can be a challenge, especially when the holidays roll around.

Thinking about dividing time with the children during this time of year can be stressful. So, here are some tips to help parents manage complex family situations during the holidays.

Stick to the parenting schedule

When Kentucky parents establish custody of their children, they must create:

  1. A custody and visitation agreement and schedule; and
  2. A parenting plan.

Since holidays are generally an important time of the year, when families all around the country gather together, the custody schedule usually outlines how parents will divide holidays. Perhaps they share time equally on holidays, or alternate holidays each year.

Whatever the schedule, parents should stick to it. This involves:

  • Revisiting the schedule and solidifying plans each year, especially if they involve travel;
  • Planning to make the most of parenting time; and
  • Being on time with custody exchanges to respect the other parents’ time with the children as well.

Discuss gifts with the other parent ahead of time

Communication is always a key element of co-parenting as well as planning for a successful holiday season. In addition to holiday plans, co-parents should also make sure to discuss gifts.

This might not seem like a significant issue, but discussing gifts in advance can help parents to:

  • Potentially collaborate on some gifts;
  • Avoid an expensive competition of gift-giving between parents trying to outdo each other;
  • Prevent disputes; and
  • Relieve pressure on children in the long run.

It may also be helpful for parents to arrange a budget for children’s gifts to help reduce the financial stress of the holiday season.

Ask for the kids’ opinions

Celebrating holidays after a divorce can be complicated for children too. Families often have traditions that they no longer engage in after a divorce, and it might be difficult to adjust.

When parents are making plans for the holidays, they should consult their children to see what they would like to do. After all, it is their holiday too, and it might be possible to create new traditions parents and children can both enjoy.

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