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Now is the time to prepare for holiday co-parenting

This time last year, you may have been planning Thanksgiving dinner, gathering holiday decorations and perhaps even beginning your Christmas shopping. You may have reminded yourself of various traditions – a favorite holiday movie to watch as a family, stringing popcorn for the tree or driving around town to look at holiday lights – and eagerly anticipated sharing them with your children again this season.

A lot has changed in just one year. If this is your first holiday season since the divorce, you may be unsure how to manage, especially when it comes to those holiday traditions you expected to share with your children for years to come. However, there are some things you can do to make the holidays joyful and memorable with some planning and a spirit of cooperation with your ex-spouse.

Communication and patience are the keys

When divorced parents wait until the last minute to spring plans on each other, they often spend the holidays battling in family court instead of enjoying the warmth of the season. This is why it is a good idea to review your existing custody agreement to see what the court has ordered and if these orders will work with your plans. If you are planning to have extended family over for dinner on Thanksgiving, the day before is not the time to realize your kids will be with your ex.

Some ways you can begin now to prepare for the holidays include:

  • Contacting your ex-spouse to review and confirm custody schedules for the rest of the year
  • Identifying any conflicts in parenting schedules because of the holidays
  • Working with your spouse by making allowances for special events that may disrupt the court-ordered schedule
  • Informing your ex if you plan to travel with the children and sharing contact information
  • Clarifying any restrictions for travel your custody orders may impose

Family counselors suggest posting a calendar of events and custody schedules for your children so they can know ahead of time where they will be on any given day. It will also benefit your children if you can present a front of relaxed flexibility about holiday plans instead of frustration and anxiety over ruined traditions or other disappointments. Of course, if there are issues or questions about custody arrangements, you can always contact your Tennessee attorney for advice.

While juggling schedules and meeting with attorneys may not be how you envisioned your holidays, you may find that a little planning and some open communication will allow you to have a positive experience with your children. You may also find that the new traditions you create can be very meaningful.

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