Coates & Davenport, P.C.

The holiday season can be special, even after divorce

The first holiday season after a divorce can be challenging, especially if a couple has children. They may wonder how the child will react to the changes divorce brings at this time of year. However, with some cooperation and advanced planning, parents in Virginia can ensure that the holiday season is one of celebration for all involved.

First, when creating a child custody schedule parents will have to decide how they want to handle the holidays. Some parents may alternate years celebrating the holiday with their child. For example, the child might spend Christmas Day with one parent on even years, and with the other parent on odd years. Or, parents might decide to split holiday time. For example, one parent could have the child Christmas morning and the other parent can have the child on Christmas afternoon. Also, if the child is old enough, parents might want to ask the child how he or she would like to celebrate the holidays.

With the holidays come gift giving. This is when sometimes a parent needs to swallow their pride for the sake of their child. For example, the child might ask one parent for some money so he or she can purchase a gift for the other parent. A parent might not be keen to spend money on their ex, but they should understand that this is not about them -- it is about their child having a happy holiday.

Finally, if a parent does not have the child on a holiday, they should avoid saying or doing things that may make the child feel guilty or feel like he or she has to choose sides. Instead, the parent who does not have the child on the holiday can take some time to pamper themselves and focus on the future. And, if a parent doesn't have the child on a holiday, he or she can still plan a celebration on a day that he or she does have the child, even if it doesn't fall on the exact holiday.

Everyone deserves to feel some joy in the holiday season. So, with a carefully drafted parenting plan, some cooperation and some give-and-take, it is possible to make it through the holidays after a divorce in a way that serves the best interests of the child and makes new, happy memories for all involved.

Source: The Huffington Post, "Divorce and the Holidays," Debbie Martinez, Nov. 6, 2017

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