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Sharing parenting time successfully during the holidays

Most Massachusetts divorced parents understand that everyone involved -- parents, children and even extended family -- must adjust to many new situations and "firsts" following the split. However, the holiday season is perhaps one of the more challenging times for ex-spouses wanting to share parenting time, especially if the divorce was finalized fairly recently. While tensions can run high at this time of year, divorced parents can increase the chances of everyone enjoying a harmonious and relaxing holiday if they follow a few tips.

First, if applicable, divorced parents should be sure they are familiar with all details of their most recent court order, and if changes are necessary, plan adjustments with their attorney in advance of the holiday. Next, ex-spouses should communicate these details to each other as well as the children, to avoid misunderstandings. Parents can provide a wall calendar for the children to let them know where they will be, and with whom, on each day of the season.

Co-parenting ex-spouses are also smart to be flexible about all plans. Sometimes, unexpected events happen, and if a relative drops in last-minute, changing the prescribed parenting schedule, parents should remember their child's relationships with extended family on both sides are most important, and adjust accordingly. As well, many newly divorced parents feel sad thinking back on established family traditions, especially those related to the holiday season, but many people can benefit from creating new traditions moving forward. Finally, people who have experienced divorce relatively recently are wise to remember they are likely facing a steep learning curve and give themselves a break. It is helpful to recognize that healing takes time.

Most people would agree that few parts of the divorce process and its aftermath are easy. The holiday season may present some particular challenges, especially for those who share parenting time, but people who plan ahead, keep communication open with their ex-spouse and kids and remain flexible have the best chance of enjoying a positive, relaxing holiday experience with family. Many divorced or divorcing Massachusetts residents turn to an experienced family law attorney for guidance with all aspects of the divorce process, including decisions involving children.

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