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How to ring in the holidays without co-parent problems

If you are one of many California parents who are navigating the holidays for the first time since a divorce, you may also be one of many who are a bit worried about the potential stress that could arise if you and your co-parent aren't able to get through it all without contention. Divorce is never easy, and you can have the best of intentions to compromise and cooperate as needed, then find yourself facing serious problems if things don't go as you'd hoped they might.

Your court-approved co-parenting plan is a key factor toward a peaceful holiday season. If you and your spouse wrote out the terms of your own plan, it's a good sign that, if problems arise during the holidays, you can work them out. If you litigated child custody proceedings because your ex refused to peacefully negotiate the issues at hand, you may want to plan ahead for what you will do if he or she tries to undermine your rights or impede your parent/child relationship during the holidays.

Keeping the peace

There are several ideas that may be helpful to you and your co-parent as you celebrate your first post-divorce holiday season with your kids. The following list provides tips that have worked well for others:

  • Especially if you did not include specific stipulations for the holidays in your co-parenting plan, you may want to sit down with your ex and write out a schedule for any and all celebrations your kids will have from now through the new year.
  • If you want to incorporate your holiday schedule into your co-parenting plan for future years, you can submit it to the court for approval.
  • If you already have details about the holidays in your existing court order, both you and your ex are legally obligated to adhere to the existing terms. Even if one or both of you want to change those terms, you must seek the court's approval to do so.
  • Be willing to share your children's experiences with each other. Since the kids will not be with either parent full-time, it can help lessen the loneliness that sometimes sets in, especially during the first post-divorce holiday season, if both parents are willing to share photos and stories regarding the children's festivities.

Like most things in life, if you expect perfection, you're likely to wind up disappointed. Your divorce doesn't necessarily have to mean that your holidays can never be joyful again; in fact, you and your kids may find it fun to create new family traditions, but there's also no harm in keeping up customs you enjoyed while you were married, as well. If you and your ex get along, you might even consider sharing some holiday celebrations together for the sake of the kids.

If a problem arises that you don't feel equipped to handle

Trying to battle things out during the holidays can bring good cheer and fun to a screeching halt. In reality, however, problems sometimes arise, so it is never a bad idea to reach out for legal support if you feel the need. This is often a means of obtaining a swift and agreeable outcome.

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