The Do’s and Don’ts of Holiday Custody

The holidays can be a struggle for divorced parents and their children. Between navigating custody schedules and changing routines with the addition of family gatherings, events and the actual holidays themselves, it can be easy to forget the most essential components of a successful custody arrangement – honesty, communication and flexibility. 

  • Don’t talk bad about other parent or their families (former in-laws)
  • Do encourage children to enjoy their time with both sides of the family, even offer to make a card or gift for the other parent

It is common for children whose parents are separated or divorced to have a lot of mixed emotions during the holidays. They may feel guilty for spending time with one parent and not the other, and they may be missing old family traditions. To help ease these feelings, encourage your child to enjoy time spent with both sides of the family. You could even offer to help make a card or find a small gift for the other parent. Assure them that you will spend time with them on another day and that you love and support them no matter what. Overall, be honest with your children. Their emotions may change day-to-day, and it is important to be understanding and sensitive to their feelings. Always strive to make sure that the child never feels like they have to choose between you and your ex, especially during the holidays.

  • Don’t bring up the divorce
  • Do create new traditions 

Your child is likely reminiscing about past holidays and missing old family traditions that you used to practice before the divorce. Instead of dwelling on the past, create new traditions, and keep up the ones that you can. Creating new traditions will help distract the child from thinking about the past, and it will help excite them for holidays in the future. The holidays are hard on every member of the family after divorce, including you and your ex. Creating new traditions with your children will also help you to make new, happy memories with your family, though they look a little different.

  • Don’t try to one-up the other parent’s gift giving
  • Do allow your children to bring their gifts to either home
  • Do communicate about presents and budget with the other parent

Like all aspects of custody negotiations, open communication and honesty are two of the most important factors to ensure that things go smoothly and your child’s happiness is put first. When it comes to gift-giving during the holidays, you may be tempted to go above and beyond for your child this year. Before splurging on tons of gifts, talk with your child’s other parent. Communicate about types of gifts and your budget, and do not try to outdo the other parent. In addition, don’t make your child feel like they can’t bring their gifts to the other parent’s house, instead, let them enjoy and take ownership of their belongings.

  • Don’t plan a getaway without consulting the other parent and coming to an agreement
  • Do plan in advance

You may be considering traveling during the holidays. Before booking flights or hotels, make sure to talk to your ex – open communication is key for holiday travel. Share the dates you plan to be gone and where you are going. In addition, create a schedule for phone calls or video chats so that your children have the opportunity to talk with their other parent throughout the trip. Be flexible and patient throughout the entire process.

If you need help creating a holiday custody schedule that is best for you and your children, contact the Law Office of Joseph Cerino today.

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The law office of Joseph Cerino handles all matters of litigation, concentrating in family law including divorce, custody, child support, paternity, alimony, property division and domestic violence, as well as, criminal defense and appeals in Southwest Florida.

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