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Celebrating The Holidays During Divorce

When going through a divorce, the holidays are oftentimes difficult. Here are a few tips to make things go more smoothly.

It is important to start planning for the holidays ahead of time. Look at your court orders to determine if there is a schedule in place. When you plan ahead, if there is no schedule, you will have time to work with your ex spouse, attorney, and the court, if needed, to make a schedule. First, talk to your spouse/ex spouse about options and try to work out a schedule that is best for the children. 

If you are unable to reach an agreement, there are standard holiday guidelines in most counties. Most guideline schedules alternate the holidays. For example, Mom gets Thanksgiving in odd years and Christmas in even years and Dad gets the children for the opposite holidays. However, this is not the only way to handle the holidays. Some families choose to split holidays. This schedule allows for both parents to see the children each holiday. Some families celebrate together. This is rare and only works if the parents get along well. Another option is to go through the holidays and pick out the important traditions from the marriage, implement those traditions and create the rest of the schedule around those traditions. An example would be to spend Christmas Eve with dad and his family every year and Christmas day with mom and her family, if that was the practice during the marriage.

When facing the holidays for the first time after a divorce, it’s important to be realistic and accept the new normal. You will be creating new traditions with your family, as your family changes. It is unlikely that you will be able to continue all of the traditions that you made with your family as a married couple. Determine which holiday traditions are worth keeping and make some new traditions. You don’t have to re-shape the whole holiday, but it doesn’t (and cannot) be exactly the same as when you were married. If you can accept that, it will be easier to enjoy the holiday, work with your ex spouse to create a schedule, and make new memories with your children.

If you are going through your divorce currently, talk to your attorney now about the holiday schedule. If there is not a schedule in place, your attorney can work with you to create a schedule. If you are already divorced, take a look at your court orders to determine your plans ahead of time; therefore, leaving sufficient time to address any issues that may arise.