The holiday season can be a challenging time of year for both the parents and the children of a separated family. While there is no real one-size-fits-all handbook for parents to follow on how to survive the holiday season with as much quality time and holiday cheer as you can, here are some tips that we find helpful for the families we work with at Paul Family Law Professional Corporation:

  1. Plan ahead: create a parenting plan or confirm the details of your existing parenting plan or court order well before the holidays begin.
  • If you have a holiday schedule set out in an existing parenting plan in a separation agreement or in a court order, follow it, unless you and the other parent have agreed to do otherwise. It’s best to have any changes in writing, such as an e-mail or text exchange, so there is no last minute confusion.
  • If you do not have a holiday schedule set out in a separation agreement or a court order, it is best to create one well before the start of the holiday season. You will want the schedule to be as clear as possible to minimize the chance of any misunderstandings after the fact. For example, in addition to setting out the days that the children will be with each parent, you may want to consider being specific as to the times and locations for each pick-up and drop-off during the holidays.
  • No matter what, it is important to confirm the plans for the holidays as far in advance of the holiday as possible with the other parent to ensure that you are both on the same page. If there are any issues that need to be resolved, either with the assistance of a lawyer, mediator, or judge, it will be much more stressful to resolve on the eve of the holiday season.
  1. Be Flexible: The holiday season does not have to be restricted to one or two days. To make the best use of the time the children have off from school, consider planning celebrations at other points during the holiday break. It is unlikely that the children will be disappointed with celebrations that extend beyond the traditional one to two days.
  2. Embrace Change: Traditions are a wonderful thing and we can become quite attached to the ones we know and love. Sometimes, the traditions we followed before separation are not as workable after separation and that is okay. It is a great opportunity for each parent to start new traditions with the children to enjoy in the years to come and these new traditions are not any less special than the old ones.

If you require any assistance with a parenting plan for the holidays, please contact us at Paul Family Law Professional Corporation, where we offer mediation, arbitration, and out of court legal services to assist our clients.