Co-parenting During the Holiday Season

With Thanksgiving having passed and Christmas and the New Year around the corner, we are officially in the holiday season. This time of year is normally associated with family gatherings, shared meals, and feelings of gratitude and joy. Following a separation or divorce, however, this joyful season can become a bit more complex.

At TNS Family Law, we help our clients create new family traditions to rejuvenate the holiday season for themselves and their families. Here are our tips and recommendations for how to co-parent during the holiday season:


Review Your Agreement

Now is the time to review your custody agreement with your co-parent and go over the schedule that has been ordered or agreed upon. Often, there are child-related issues surrounding the visitation schedule that parents need to tend to. Do this in advance so that there are no surprises during the holidays. In the event of a foreseeable disagreement regarding holiday visitation, please contact your family law attorney to help come to a resolution. In the event a disagreement cannot be resolved outside of court, there are limited opportunities for relief from the Court, including mediation, and hearings to resolve holiday disputes conducted on specified dates.


Mentally Prepare

The holidays are an emotional time for all families. The more you prepare emotionally for this the less it will rattle you—and your children and other family members will benefit as well. Whether this is your first holiday season separated or you have navigated co-parenting during the holidays previously, take some time to process the emotions that might come up before your kids are home. And do not get caught in the social media comparison trap. No, not every other couple is happily married and “perfect,” as the internet belies. Know what is and can be great about your own family, and plan out how you can make the most of that rather than focusing on what is missing.  


Plan Gift Giving

Before separation, couples normally choose gifts for their children together. Now, depending on your circumstances, you will each decide what to purchase for your children. You may consider communicating with your co-parent to ensure gifts are not repeated, or to share what you think each child may like. We also recommend that your children write down “wish lists” of what they want so that you can divvy up the purchases to further ease the situation. Just remember, the children come first. You want to ensure they feel cared about and understood.


Focus On the Children

The best way to ensure a harmonious holiday season is to focus on the children. Try to foster the spirit of the season and see the holidays through your children’s eyes.

If you sense that your child misses the other parent and he or she resides nearby, carve out some time for them to experience some moments of the season with each other. For example, offer your co-parent some time to meet the kids the day after Christmas to share and exchange gifts together if you have visitation for Christmas break, or suggest that they meet for dinner the evening of New Year’s Day to celebrate the New Year together if you have visitation for New Year’s.

We understand that this is often easier said than done if there is resentment towards your co-parent, but the dividends will pay down the road. Your generosity will likely come back to you when you want or need to see your children “off-schedule” as well. And the biggest benefit is that your kids will get the message that their parents are respecting each other’s familial needs, which is the singular most important factor in reducing the negative impacts of divorce on children.

Emotions and logistics might seem overwhelming as you approach co-parenting during the holiday season. But with thought and planning, you can replace feelings of loss and inconvenience with a joyful, memorable holiday season for your children. If you could use more guidance navigating agreements with your ex about co-parenting this holiday season, contact the experienced family law attorneys at TNS Family Law.

If you have questions about co-parenting this holiday season, please contact TNS Family Law at (410) 339-4100 or Our team of attorneys is here to help guide you.

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