Planning Ahead Can Ease Tension
For many people, October is the start of the holiday season. As the year winds down, school and work get busy as parents and kids alike start getting ready for their holiday breaks and vacations. If you are a divorced parent, this time can be particularly hectic as you try to juggle your kids’ schedules and your ex-partner’s plans.
If you know that you have a busy holiday season ahead, beginning planning now can help ease holiday stress and tension.
However, holiday planning when you are co-parenting is easier said than done. Even if you have an amicable relationship with your co-parent, the added stress of the holidays can lead to misunderstandings, miscommunication, and hurt feelings.
Below we provide a few tips for holiday planning as a co-parent. Whether this is your first year post-divorce or you are looking for some new ideas, we hope that they help you and your family have a smooth, happy holiday season!
Tip #1: Discuss Your Plans with Your Co-Parent Before Buying Plane Tickets
With rising airline ticket prices, many people are trying to buy their holiday tickets as early as possible. However, if you are co-parenting, do not rush to buy your plane tickets without first confirming your plans with your co-parent.
This is especially important if you plan to take your children out of the state or country. Similarly, if you are planning a trip requiring your co-parent to switch days with you, you want to ensure that your plans work with their schedule.
Changing plane tickets can be incredibly expensive, and sometimes, tickets may be nonrefundable. The last thing you want is to buy tickets that you then can’t use because of an issue with your co-parent’s schedule.
Tip #2: Make Sure You Review Your Parenting Plan or Custody Agreement
Though you may feel confident you know the time-sharing agreement for the different holidays, reviewing your parenting plan for any holiday or travel-related provisions you may have forgotten is always a good idea. For example, some parents will agree to provide each other with a specific amount of notice when they want to take their children on vacation out of the area.
Refreshing yourself on your parenting plan can help you during the early stages of your holiday planning and can help you mitigate potential confusion or misunderstandings with your co-parent.
Tip #3: Try to Be Flexible When Possible & Prioritize Your Plans
Planning a holiday vacation or other holiday-related event with your kids can be challenging. It can also be emotionally stressful for everyone involved, especially if this is the first holiday season post-divorce. Parents often look forward to the extended time off from work and the extra time they get to spend with their children and their extended families. After a divorce, when you have significantly less time with your children than you had previously, you may feel frustrated when scheduling conflicts arise.
To help alleviate this, try to build alternatives into your holiday schedule. For example, if you want to take your children to visit a relative out of town, figure out a range of dates that would work so that if your co-parent can’t accommodate your first choice, you have some backup options.
It is also helpful to know what your top priorities are during the holidays. Communicate these to your co-parent, so they know what is most important to you. After a divorce, when communication with your ex is limited, they may not appreciate when something is important to you and, therefore, may not initially appear willing to work with you on a schedule change.
Bonus Tip: Reach Out to an Attorney for Help When Necessary
Even the best-laid plans can run into road bumps, and even when you go into holiday planning with the best of intentions, you may find yourself dealing with a co-parent who is being difficult and/or not honoring the conditions of your custody agreement or parenting plan. You may find working with a family law attorney helpful when this happens.
At the Law Firm of Johnson & Gaskill PLLC, we have helped many families deal with holiday custody disputes. We can use our experience to help you too. Contact us online to discuss your situation with one of our lawyers today.