Life isn’t like a Hallmark Christmas movie, particularly if you find yourself in the middle of a divorce during the holiday season. This year will be different. But with careful thought and preparation, as well as patience, you can make it through the holidays and might even enjoy yourself along the way.
Here are some tips for navigating the holidays with a soon-to-be-ex-spouse – and your kids, too:
- Accept the parenting schedule as is – in the separation process, you likely negotiated a co-parenting agreement or custody plan that includes the holidays. Respect it. If you don’t have your kids on Christmas Day or Christmas Eve this year, then you likely will next and won’t appreciate your spouse trying to change plans. Recreate the holiday on a different day when you do have the kids. Open presents, make the special meal, watch the holiday movies and sing the songs. Support your kids and reinforce the positive parts of being together, rather than focus on the days you are apart. If extended family is planning a visit, plan it around your parenting days.
- Create new traditions – embrace spending time with your girlfriends and plan a socially distanced holiday gathering. Do a Christmas lights tour or plan a Christmas party around the fire pit. Create new traditions with your kids as well. Plan a movie night, decorate the house with new items, make gingerbread houses or buy and donate items to a children’s shelter. Even small activities can become a special tradition that you and your children can celebrate each year
- Don’t spend the holiday alone – if you don’t have the kids on Christmas or will be alone on New Year’s Eve, make other plans. While it might be challenging from a pandemic perspective, it is doable. Plan a holiday meal or champagne toast outdoors, set up socially distanced chairs, have lots of blankets and invite your girlfriends or extended family. If invited to an event, don’t automatically say no.
- When you are alone, relish the time – now’s your chance to watch the Hallmark movies your spouse wouldn’t or clean out the closet and donate to a homeless shelter. Create some “me” holiday traditions. If you’ve always wanted to try pickleball or golf, treat yourself to a lesson. Avoid overindulging or self-medicating when alone.
- Respect your spouse – be respectful of your spouse and recognize that it’s ok for your children to enjoy spending time with him during the holidays.
- Put your children first, as much as possible – encourage your children to enjoy themselves when they are away from you and with their other parent. Don’t be critical or say bad things about your spouse. Let go of anger and be thankful for the time you do get to spend with your kids. Set expectations with your children about holiday plans so they aren’t disappointed when something is different from last year.
- If planning a trip with the kids, follow the rules and communicate – taking your kids on a holiday vacation isn’t kidnapping as long as you follow any travel restrictions in your divorce filing and communicate with your spouse. If your divorce filing does not have travel restrictions, avoid planning a trip on the days your spouse has the kids. Communicate your plans either directly with your spouse or through your attorneys in order to avoid any misunderstandings or negative situations later. Also, watch your spending – huge vacation expenses or extravagant purchases while on a trip can end up hurting you later in the divorce process.
Our Divorce Attorneys Can Help Alleviate Your Fears
If you have any questions about custody agreements or vacations during the holidays, it’s best to consult a divorce attorney. Divorce is challenging but with Alexandra Geczi PLLC you are not alone. Our attorneys are here to help you discreetly navigate the process and protect your interests so that you can move forward into a bright, bold future. Contact us today at 214-974-4449 for a free case evaluation.