Although it is shorter than summer break, winter break can raise just as many disagreements when it comes to co-parenting and child custody.
The holidays are not only a sentimental time, but also entail time off school and work, and, in some cases, travel.
Planning before jingle bells start ringing can protect you, your ex, and your child from a blue winter break.
Anticipate Feelings of Greif and Loss
In addition to coming to an agreement about custody, you and your ex will need to prepare for the hard feelings that come with the holiday season after a divorce. While you may both be dealing with grief, loss, and change after your separation, you have likely experienced some of these feelings before.
On the other hand, your child may be going through these emotions for the first time. Be sure both you and your ex talk to your child about what’s going on in their head and heart, and consider what your child wants when making holiday plans.
For example, a trip to grandma’s house the same year as your divorce may be too much for your child to handle. If possible, consider inviting your parents to your house instead. That way, your child can spend quality time with mom, dad, and extended family.
Together or Separate? Make a Smart Choice.
Celebrating holidays together, even after a divorce, can be meaningful to your child. That being said, your child should never have to watch their parents fight.
If you can handle it, try to preserve at least some time and traditions together as a family. If not, make sure your expectations about time-sharing are clear from the beginning. Some families do best when mom gets winter break one year and dad gets it the next.
Consider Gifts and Resources
After a divorce, financial situations can vary. Try to agree upon a price-limit for gifts to avoid “one-upping” each other and discuss which parent is purchasing which item on your child’s wish list to avoid doubling up.
Because your child has a break from school, you should also consider childcare. If you only have 3 days off work and your ex has 2 weeks, for instance, it might make more sense for your child to stay with your ex for the holidays.
Not many couples start divorces during the holidays, but countless custody cases pop up between Thanksgiving and New Years’.
No matter what you do, plan for the holidays in advance, and get it in writing if you can. Don’t be blindsided by a surprise plane ticket, meltdown, or argument.
Instead, take time to communicate calmly before your child is free from school – both with your ex and your little one or with an attorney if needed.
Clarifying expectations can go a long way in creating a winter wonderland for your family during your child’s winter break.
Divorce is stressful and while co-parenting is likely the best option for your child, it’s not easy either.
If you need help creating a co-parenting plan or coming to an agreement about custody during the holidays or at any other time, please contact Smith Law Offices, LLC today.
We can be reached at (636) 400-1177 or online, and we’d be happy to meet with you for a consultation at our St. Charles office.