How to Successfully Co-Parent During the Holidays After a Divorce

The holidays are a happy time, but they can also be stressful, particularly if you are going through a divorce or separation. Divorces and separations disrupt the family unit and it’s okay to take a step back and think about what the best course of action is for you and your children. Although it means a big change for your family, it doesn’t have to mean something negative for your children and their holiday experience. Below we discuss some of our best tips for how to successfully co-parent during the holidays after a divorce.


  • Don’t make your children choose!


When you’re dealing with a divorce or separation, thinking of how to spend the holidays is very daunting, especially since both parents will likely want to spend equal time with their children. However, putting the decision on the kids’ shoulders is not what’s best for them. It’s unfair to make them choose and it’s undoubtedly difficult for them to think about choosing between their parents. Also, their answer might not be what you’re expecting, and you don’t want to open yourself up to the risk of further heartache.

So, instead of asking the kids, consult your visitation schedule or parenting plan that already exists. If you don’t have one, or didn’t work out a special holiday schedule, remember to be open and compromising. It will make the entire process much better for you and your children. Also, if you are with your kids on the holiday, make sure you give them the opportunity to speak with the other parent. Communication and contact will help them deal with the separation better.


  • Hash out the details behind the scenes


If you and your ex don’t have a holiday schedule in place, then you will need to work with each other to come to an agreement. In an ideal world, everyone would get along, and working out a schedule would be no big deal. But we don’t live in an ideal world and things often get complicated and are rife with misunderstanding. In either case, it’s worthwhile to come up with a reasonable schedule for the holidays and present it to your ex before making any promises to your children. You don’t want to get their hopes up for a happy day of reconciliation only to have them dashed because of a disagreement. For example, one parent could have the kids on Christmas Eve and the other Christmas day. Or, if at all possible, you and your ex can put your differences aside and spend time with the kids together, even if it’s just for an hour.


  • Compromise


Of course, it will most likely be necessary to compromise — particularly if you and your ex will be unable to spend the holidays around each other. Sometimes, when a few years have passed, people move on enough from the relationship to actually spend the holiday all together as a modern family. But, if this is your first (or second or third) year following a split, then it’s likely you’ll have to find a way to work with your ex and give in where you might not want to.


  • Start new traditions


Instead of worrying about any old traditions you can no longer do, view this as an opportunity to create new ones! This is especially important if you have children who are old enough to remember (and maybe even expect) traditions of holidays past. Likewise, a divorce or separation does not have to mean the end of a tradition. You can always modify old ones and make your new ones a fun treat for you and your children. Who knows, you might even be able to sell the idea to your kids that they’re getting two holidays!


  • Take time to rest and treat yourself!


As a parent, you no doubt put your children first. But, particularly after dealing with the stress of a divorce, make sure that you are taking time away to take care of and treat yourself. After all, it is the holiday season and you deserve to enjoy is as much as anyone else.

At Hulbert & Associates we understand the special intricacies involved in family law matters involving children and have the experience to help you out during a difficult divorce. If you are in Colorado or Nebraska and are worried about how to handle your divorce during the holiday season, please don’t hesitate to contact us today!

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Written by Lori Hulbert

Together the attorneys of the firm have nearly 30 years of experience in the fields of estate planning, estate and trust administration, estate and trust litigation, guardianships and conservatorships and civil litigation.