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Tips For A Great Holiday Season, Despite Your Divorce

Going through a divorce or being divorced during the holidays can be extremely painful. The pressure of having fun and spending time with friends and family can be difficult to handle, especially if the divorce is fresh, when raw emotions are still there.

That said there are some things you can do to ensure that your holidays are as joyous and peaceful as possible. Here are five tips to having a great holiday season:

1. Review Your Parenting Schedule. Make sure it is clear and that you and your ex-spouse are in agreement about who has the children and when. Often times parenting agreements require the parties to share vacation time and determine transfer times and locations. Make sure you are on the same page and that everything is agreed to well in advance. Realizing you have a problem just a few days before a holiday could result in you losing time and consequently losing sleep. It may be hard to remedy if your lawyer is out of the office on vacation, the court is closed, the judge is off the bench for the holiday, or if the judge simply decides not to address the issue on an expedited basis.

2. Plan Before Traveling. If you are planning a vacation or a visit to relatives over the holidays, make sure any and all documents are in order for the scheduled travel. Be certain you have possession of valid passports and a notarized letter from your ex-spouse authorizing the travel (especially any international travel). Make sure you provide an itinerary and contact information to your spouse. On the flipside, if your ex-spouse is traveling with the children, make sure you have received the same information.

3. Communicate About Gift Giving. Talk to your spouse about the gifts you plan to purchase for your children. First and foremost, duplicate gifts are unproductive and make the kids feel forgotten and in “the middle.” Some parents even buy gifts together and pool their resources to enable a higher gift budget for the children. It is best if the parents can spend approximately comparable amounts so that neither parent “one ups” the other making the kids feel uncomfortable and awkward. Finally, it is a nice idea to help your children purchase a gift for your ex-spouse or other family members. Although it might be difficult for you, this makes everyone feel good and is the right thing to do.

4. Prepare For Family Time. When spending time with your kids and your family, remember that no one should disparage your spouse in front of the children. You may be over the heartache and pain before your parents and other family members. So, a reminder can go a long way. Remember that the holidays are all about the kids, and hearing others speak badly about their other parent makes them feel bad and sad. In fact, it can ruin their holidays.

5. Focus On The Positives! Remember: joy to the world! With the right attitude, the holidays can be a peaceful time for yourself, along with lots of fun for the kids. Happy Holidays!

Amanda B. Clayman is a Partner at Katz & Stefani.

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