Holidays can be an amazing time filled with festivities, family and friends. If you are newly separated this is going to be a very different holiday season for you and your children. Take some time and make sure that you and your former partner get the most of the Christmas season with your kids. Here are a few points to keep in mind:

1. Do What’s in the Best Interests of the Children.

It is Christmas after all, and in the spirit of that try and put the wants and needs of your children before the issues between you and your former spouse/partner. It can be hard and often seem impossible to think of a potential resolution with your ex, however, you would be surprised with how quickly the issues can (temporarily or permanently) settle if you both put the needs of your children first. If possible try and give your child the full holiday experience, let them interact with both of you (not necessarily together) if possible, let them see extended family if its been a part of their previous holiday routines, keep those important family traditions going if you can. The holidays create lasting memories, and unfortunately, conflict and fighting can potentially ruin the happiness of the season for them.

Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Avoid spending excessive amounts of money or getting into a contest over who can give the coolest or most expensive gift. One-upping each other will just create tension between you two, and put the children in the middle to choose which parent outdid the other, aka who’s better mommy or daddy?
  • Try and work out issues and details for holiday scheduling beforehand, if the schedule is set it will alleviate potential conflict and give the kids something to look forward to
  • Be as amicable as possible during the exchange, stay positive if you have a negative drop off experience it can leave children either feeling guilty or sad about how a parent is feeling after they leave them.
  • Create some new traditions for you and your kids. Make the time you are spending with them something special, and if you can fuse together new and old traditions it can bring in a sense of familiarity with Holiday past with the present.

2. Start Planning as Early as Possible.

Address your holiday plans as early as possible rather than the couple of days leading up to your scheduled events. This reduces the stress level and allows parents time to think about the options available, such as rescheduling or changing times of certain dinners/events etc. You both may have planned out how you want to spend the holidays with your kids, but if you don’t discuss it with each other you could end up in massive conflict because of overlapping events. Keep your children involved, ask them questions, like what their favourite part of the holiday is? Who do they want to see (family, extended family etc)? What traditions were they most excited for? etc. Try and keep the holiday focused on continuing to create memorable experiences for them.

3. Be flexible and fair.

Be okay with knowing you won’t necessarily get to do everything that you want. Prioritize what really matters to you, and do your best to be fair to your ex-partner since they may also have holiday plans that are important to them. Be cognizant that you won’t get everything you want, but you can attempt to make an arrangement that you are both okay with. Being a parent is forever, and the sooner successful co-parenting can take place the easier it will be on the children. The marriage may have ended but your parenting partnership needs to be a priority for your kids.

4. Settle on your dates and keep your family in the loop.

If your usual Christmas includes extended family then call your aunt, email your cousins and talk to your parents ahead of time with the verified dates and times that your family is available. Keep everyone updated on your holiday access schedule, especially if you are newly separated they may not have even considered that the holidays could be different going forward. It’s a busy time for everyone so the more they know the easier it will be for them to potentially adjust times or dates in order to work around your new schedule with the kids to maximize family time. Make a point of reaching out to those who are in charge of organizing family functions give them your availability for the events well in advance. In most cases, family members will understand your situation and want to do what they can to ensure that the children are present for the celebrations. Keep in mind it won’t always be possible to move the dates of all family events or gatherings, but advanced warning can allow for a wider range of options or concessions to be made.

5. Consider consulting your family law lawyer if your discussions fail.

If you’re involved in a high conflict situation consider involving your legal representation. Sometimes having a third party can help reach the fairest outcome for both of you and the children. Once again, the earlier the better so if this year doesn’t work out according to plan make sure to keep these points in mind when planning the next special occasion.

Kain and Ball would like to wish you and yours the happiest of Holiday Seasons if at any point you need us we are here for you. The above information is not legal advice of any kind, and you should be sure to speak to a qualified family law lawyer about your specific situation. For more information, call us at 1-855-773-4588 or email us at to book a free 30-minute consultation with one of our experienced family law lawyers.

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