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Tips for Sharing Child Custody During the Holiday Season

Getting divorced shortly before the holiday season begins in Suffolk, VA, or making the decision to separate, can be especially difficult when you have minor children. It can be difficult for kids in Chesapeake, VA and throughout the state to understand why their parents will not be together during the holidays, and sometimes it can be even more complicated for the parents to agree to a schedule or to other practical issues concerning Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, and other holidays. As an article in Parents Magazine explains, the best way to tell your children about a divorce is to “present a united front,” demonstrating that both parents have come to the decision mutually and that they plan to communicate and work together for the sake of their children.

However, even when parents are generally communicative and willing to work together in most situations during or after a divorce, the holiday season can result in rising tensions. An article in the Huffington Post discusses some of the problems often associated with sharing custody during the holidays and makes some recommendations for parents to help the season go smoothly.

Managing the Fact that the Holidays Will Happen in Two Separate Households

One of the most difficult issues for kids concerning the holidays is that they no longer will be enjoying festivities and relaxing during the school break in just one household. As the Huffington Post article underscores, communicating with the other parent becomes “just as important” as communicating with your children about how and where they will spend the holidays.

If you have recently separated, it is extremely important to come to an agreement with the other parent about a schedule that allows the kids to spend an equal amount of time with both of their parents. If the children are old enough to voice their own decisions, it is also important to take their wishes into consideration. There are many ways to split up the holiday season, such as one parent having the children for Christmas Eve while the children go to the other parent’s house for Christmas Day, for example. Or, some families might agree that one parent should spend time with the children for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, for instance, while the other parent has the children for New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.

For parents who are recently divorced, already should have a schedule in place for the holiday season. As the Virginia Courts website explains, the Code of Virginia outlines factors for judges to consider when deciding on a parenting time. Those factors help the judge to determine what is in the best interests of the child, and ultimately to decide what a parenting time schedule should look like.

Parents Should Have a Plan in Place for Time Spent Without Their Children

As we noted above, it is often extremely difficult on children to experience their first holiday season in two different households. At the same time, parents are used to spending the holidays with their kids, which often means that the parent who does not have the children at any given points during the holidays can feel lonely and, in some cases, even depressed.

It is important for parents to think of new holiday traditions for themselves when they are without their kids, and to have a clear plan in place. That plan might involve spending time out of town, or spending time with friends or other family members. Regardless, parents should know exactly what they will be doing once their kids leave to spend time with the other parent.

Learn More from a Virginia Family Law Attorney

Taken together, divorce, child custody, and the holiday season present complicated issues. An experienced Chesapeake family law attorney can help. Contact Shannon & Associates, P.C. to learn more about the services we provide to families in Chesapeake and Suffolk, Virginia.

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