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How can you handle holidays following a divorce?

Following a divorce, it takes time for everyone to settle into a routine and come to terms with the new normal. This is especially true for families with children. Custody battles and changes can actually go on long after a divorce is final. Even families who have successfully created a new normal, might experience some bumps when it comes to holidays.

One way to avoid such bumps is to delineate parents around the holidays clearly in legal paperwork. If both parties understand what to expect when holidays arrive, stress and arguments might be minimized. Adults should know that children don't always understand the logic or the legality behind any agreement, which is why you should be prepared to take some other steps to reduce stress for everyone during special times.

First, plan and communicate openly. Provide some basic context regarding your plans to the other parent, and discuss options for letting everyone enjoy the holiday. Avoid last-minute changes that impact how the other parent will be interacting with children during the holidays.

Cooperate with each other when possible, and be willing to respond to favours and negotiations to ensure children are able to visit as many loved ones as possible during a special season. Don't, however, put an agreeable nature ahead of the safety or well-being of children.

Even if you are in the middle of a legal battle, make sure both parents are able to share in some important milestones and events with children. Both parties might want to be present at a holiday program at school, for instance, and unless there are mitigating factors such as violence, this is possible even during divorce.

Keep your legal rights and plans in mind during the holidays, but work within those plans to let children and others experience special seasons. If you are going through a divorce with special days approaching, talk to your legal professional about including plans for those days in your documents.

Source: The Huffington Post, "8 Tips to Make Holiday Parenting Time Less Stressful," Daniel Clement, Nov. 05, 2015

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