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Newly Separated? Tips for Making the Holiday Special for Children

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The holidays can be stressful for anyone.  For those who are newly separated, there are steps you can take to minimize the stress, and help your children create happy holiday memories.

Focused on divorce matters in Baltimore, our law firm frequently works with families to create workable parenting, holiday, and other types of visitation schedules.  Whether you have one or several children, the goal is to keep conflict low and help children and their parents find the stability so important to a healthy future—or the holiday season.

Without a court-approved holiday visiting schedule, you do not have a structure through which you can be guaranteed your plans will not be disrupted or ruined.  For parents who are just getting used to the idea of separation, and worry about divorce and child custody, it can be very hard to work with your co-parent. Yet, it is important to keep your child’s wellbeing in mind at all times.

The best way to approach the holidays when you do not have an agreed-upon schedule is to create a plan with your co-parent and try to work out the rough edges beforehand, while remaining flexible as the holidays roll out.

How do you create a plan?  Here are four ideas:

  1. Work together: Try to work with your co-parent to identify which occasions are really important for your children, you, and your ex-partner. A family tradition may be important to you, but less important to your co-parent.  Try to list what each parent feels about involvement in special times during the holidays.  As tough as it may be to work with a partner, it is a strategy intended to reduce disruption and the need to react to misunderstandings about “who is where” during the holiday season.
  2. Create a schedule: Using your plan, create a tentative schedule with your co-parent and share it with your children. You may have known for some time that divorce was on the horizon, but your children may not have recognized the disconnect. Separation is a highly fraught time for children.  While they may have had a sideline seat as the marriage declined, they are full-time players now that child custody will have to be determined.  Children take cues from watching how their parents approach and resolve conflict—starting with the upcoming holidays.
  3. Make sure everyone is on the same page: When you have a tentative plan, revisit it with relatives who may be involved, to ensure everyone is on the same page. Reconfirm the plan with your partner and use your schedule throughout the season to help your children, you, and your co-parent enjoy the holidays with less conflict.
  4. Be flexible: Once you have some agreement on timing there are several other points to discuss with your co-parent before the season gets rolling. Be open to talks about having two events on one day, or extra travel on a holiday to be sure that children can see relatives they are used to seeing during the season.  Try to coordinate holiday gift-giving with your partner.  Sharing gift lists reduces conflict, shows children that their parents are not competing with each for favor with them, and keeps the general idea of gift-giving in the realm of what children experienced when your family was intact.

During the holidays, and any time of year, remember that joy, happiness, or just peace go a long way to helping you and your child take stock, enjoy life, and navigate divorce.  Conflict during and after divorce can mark the lives of your children and their emotional wellbeing forever.

If you are newly separated, the holidays will be different this year—but they can still be special.

As you move into divorce, be sure to speak with an experienced divorce attorney to keep conflict low throughout your divorce and work out agreements that will work for your whole family into the future.

 Talk with a dedicated divorce and child custody attorney in Baltimore

When you have questions about parenting time schedules, child custody, or other family law issues, the Law Offices of Allyson B. Goldscher, LLC provides strong legal representation and straightforward, trusted legal counsel.  Contact us or call 410-602-9522 today.