The Five Best Strategies for Co-Parenting During the Holidays
Few gobble up the magic of December like children, and as parents, we want to enjoy as much time with them as we can during the holidays. After a child custody battle or divorce, a couple must change their typical holiday routine. However, with clear communication and focus, you can co-parent successfully and mitigate some stress.
Remember Your Kids’ Best Interest
No matter your situation or how you plan to celebrate, your goal should always be to serve the best interest of your children. We understand how heated emotions can be after a divorce or child custody battle. It may be tempting to monopolize control over who your children see or what they do. However, this creates an unhealthy dynamic for your children.
Generally, it will be in a child’s best interest to spend equal time with both parents over the holidays. Further, each parent should not say or do anything that would antagonize the other, especially around the child.
Plan Ahead and Build a Holiday Co-Parenting Schedule
Planning is one of the simplest ways to streamline co-parenting over the holidays. We recommend that you work with the other parent to build a written schedule ahead of time. The plan should abide by the latest copy of your custody agreement, which may already have clauses outlining holiday custody or visitation. Your lawyer can answer any questions you have on the agreement’s terms.
After reading the agreement, work with the other parent to answer these questions:
- How should the children visit with their extended family?
- How will you divide the season, so the children have equal time with each parent?
- How would you and the other parent handle logistics?
- When are your children on school break?
- What is the other parent’s work schedule?
Just as the other parent should consider your preferences, you should also consider theirs. In non-amicable situations, your lawyer or a mediator can guide both parents toward an agreement.
No matter how you plan your schedule, you should always have a copy in writing for several reasons:
- It provides a mutual understanding between the parents.
- It keeps both parents accountable for following the schedule.
- It protects you if the other parent reneges and does not follow the plan.
- Your children will always know who they’ll see, when, and how.
Consider Celebrating Together
Celebrating as a single family is not an ideal option for every situation. This is especially the case if you recently finalized a divorce or are on less-than-friendly terms with the other parent. However, if the two of you still get along and agree to celebrate together, it may be the healthiest and most stable option for your children.
Remember that what your children see from you will impact them. Set a good example, call a truce from any quarrels with your ex, and encourage your children to share time with the other parent.
Communicate for Success
The holidays are a busy and volatile season, with school schedules changing as quickly as the weather. Both parents should keep the lines of communication open in case their original plan changes. The less ambiguity there is, the smoother your co-parenting experience will be.
You can call, text, or send emails for minor mishaps, such as a traffic jam or unexpected snowstorm. However, you should always discuss and finalize more extensive changes in writing, such as changes required by unexpected work commitments or a prolonged illness. Recording changes protects you and holds both parents to their promises.
Design New Routines and Traditions
If a divorce is recent, or if your kids are still getting used to splitting time between parents, you can help them adjust by forming new holiday traditions. Ignite or feed their holiday cheer through a captivating activity, such as:
- Choosing and decorating a tree
- Cooking a delicious meal or baking a sweet treat
- Wrapping presents for friends and family
- Watching a favorite movie or reading a favorite book
- Playing card, board, or video games
- Going to a museum or show
- Sledding or skating
Raleigh Child Custody Lawyer
If you’re facing difficulties negotiating a holiday co-parenting plan, the Raleigh child custody attorneys of Marshall & Taylor PLLC are ready to advocate for you and guide you toward an agreement. Founding partner Jeff Marshall is Board Certified in family law, an official distinction that only 204 attorneys in North Carolina hold. Your children’s welfare comes first for us, and we’ll approach your situation with professionalism, dignity, and compassion. For a confidential consultation, contact us today at (919) 833-1040.