Now that the first weeks of school are complete and we are well into our fall schedules, we can start looking ahead to the next big upheaval: the holidays. The holiday season means more than just a change in the daily school routine; it also means that parents who share custody of their children need to make sure their parenting arrangements make the most of holiday celebrations and honor the underlying agreement.
How can you balance it all? The following tips can help.
#1: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure
This adage rings true when putting together the initial parenting plan. It is best if parents can discuss holiday parenting time during the divorce process. Indiana courts generally encourage parents to address holiday schedules and include plans for special days like birthdays as well as Christmas vacations and holidays. Having a plan before the holiday season approaches can help reduce the stress of figuring out who gets the children for what celebrations.
#2: Review the plan
Take a moment to review the plan that you put in place during divorce negotiations. Make sure you understand which days are yours so you can plan accordingly and mitigate the risk of any surprises.
There are many tips to help ease the stress of a post-divorce holiday season. Some of the more helpful include:
- Review your priorities. Keep your goal in mind. Parents often want children to appreciate family and enjoy time together during the holiday season. Keep your focus on this goal.
- Stay flexible. Some traditions can continue, but others may need a bit of an update to accommodate your new family structure.
- Model resiliency. How parents deal with each other provides children with an idea of how to handle conflict. Keep this in mind when navigating these difficult conversations, and you can do more than increase the odds of an amicable resolution to any issues that arise during the holidays — you can help teach your children how to handle conflict.
Every situation is different, and adjusting these tips to fit your situation is important.
#3: Consider changes for the future
There are times when changes to the family make it difficult to abide by the original parenting plan. Examples can include a relocation or change in circumstances. If these changes impact holiday time or other parts of the arrangement, it may be wise to consider a modification.
It is important to note that a custody modification generally requires more than just some relatively minor frustrations. An attorney experienced in this niche area of family law can review your situation and help decide if a modification is right for your family.