Children are a precious gift; but for them, divorce can be a coal in the stocking. Mom and Dad are no longer under the same roof, and Christmas lacks the joyful feelings of togetherness. Especially around Christmas, a family breakup can make kids feel like they’re on Santa’s naughty list.
Splitting Christmas between divorced parents is the solution to the dissolution of the family unit. Divorced parents may send a child to Mom in odd numbered years and to Dad in even numbered years. While this schedule is practical for some, other creative solutions may inspire greater holiday cheer.
1. Incorporate Preferences
Mom may love the excitement surrounding Christmas Eve, so it makes sense for the children to spend time with her during this time. Dad may especially enjoy the merriment of unwrapping gifts on Christmas Day, making it the perfect day to send the kids to him.
A firm schedule such as this requires no rotating. The children can always expect to spend Christmas Eve with Mom and Christmas Day with Dad. The benefit of an approach based on tradition or preferences is that both the parents and children experience a holiday full of happiness.
While working toward an agreement involving preferences, set definite timeframes for when Christmas Eve begins and ends. For instance, Christmas Eve may be defined as 9am on December 24 to 9am on Christmas Day; Christmas day is 9am on December 25 to 9am on December 26.
One drawback to splitting Christmas Eve and Christmas Day is that it may be tough for children who, pre-divorce, had spent the entire holiday with both Mom and Dad. Alleviate the difficulty with Zoom or Skype calls, whereby the kids can speak with the other parent.
2. Embrace Partial Togetherness
Amicable divorcees are able to effortlessly employ the option where both parents come together for a few hours on Christmas morning to open presents with the kids. In order for it to be a harmonious experience, the co-parents must avoid creating an atmosphere of conflict or tension.
Alternately, if sharing a few hours on Christmas day to unwrap gifts is impractical, consider Christmas dinner together. Or, come together for a tree decoration event. Even spending time together reading holiday stories to the kids will leave a memorable impression on the youngsters.
In order for such a schedule to succeed, the divorcees must agree on a timeframe for togetherness. For instance, parents may agree to come together from 8am to 11am. Remember that children can sense conflict; if arguments are likely, it is best to avoid this option altogether.
Another possibility that may disrupt the flow of the Christmas holiday is the introduction of a new significant other. Including Mom’s new boyfriend or Dad’s new girlfriend can put a slight damper on the children’s excitement for Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.
3. Arrange Holiday Travel
Many families travel during Christmas to visit relatives or enjoy a special holiday vacation. When one parent goes out of town with the kids, travel arrangements can put a strain on holiday schedules. If planning to cross state lines for Christmas, expect to make a decision by December 1.
For example, Dad should notify Mom by December 1 if he plans to travel outside of the metropolitan area with the children. If traveling, establish firm dates: Dad will have the option to travel with the kids from December 23 to December 28.
If neither parent will travel during the Christmas holiday, the children’s schedule will remain the status quo; specifically, they will spend Christmas Eve with Mom and Christmas Day with Dad. When a parent travels, it can be emotionally difficult for the child to not see the parent during the holiday.
In such cases, plan to create a special pre-holiday, such as spending time together from December 20 to December 22. A family get together before the hecticness of the busy holiday travel season gives young children an event to anticipate and, afterward, fond memories to treasure.
Young children typically enjoy a two-week holiday break from school. This time may be divvied up between co-parents. For instance, children may spend the first day of the vacation through December 26 with one parent and from December 27 until school resumes with the other.
Divorced parents who reside in different states have an uncommon yet practical option: alternating Christmas breaks. Children spend the entire Christmas break with one parent on even numbered years and with the other parent on odd numbered years. Such schedules are preferable for some parents.
Sharing Christmas with beloved parents is what children look forward to each holiday season. In order for plans to move along smoothly, it is important that co-parents encourage their children to spend time with both Mom and Dad. Help simplify the transition when divvying up time.
Celebrating Christmas twice will produce double the joy for the children of divorcees. Encourage a positive experience by explaining anticipated holiday schedules to the children. Avoid asking too many questions about what the children did with the other parent, and never provoke guilty feelings.
Work with a Divorce Attorney
Divorced parents are advised to seek a court order to ensure they adhere to proposed holiday schedules. When you need legal assistance with Christmas time-sharing plans, consult Allen Gabe Law, P.C. We are a firm of reputable divorce attorneys who will help you through child custody battles.
Whether you are a mother or father with joint or full parental responsibilities, the child custody lawyers at Allen Gabe Law, P.C. will represent you fairly and provide sound legal advice. We have over 30 years of experience in handling a diverse range of child custody cases.
Schedule a Consultation
The legal team at Allen Gabe Law, P.C. will fully research, prepare and handle your child custody case with speed, so that you can enjoy a stress-free Christmas holiday with your children.
Schaumburg, Illinois residents involved in child custody disputes are urged to call us at (847) 241-5000, ext. 121 to schedule a consultation.