Make A Holiday Schedule. Create a holiday custodial schedule with your ex-spouse or soon-to-be ex-spouse, if you have not already done so. Such schedules should alternate the holidays each year, so that one parent has the holiday during even-numbered years, and the other has the children on odd-numbered years. This will take the guess work and stress out of the holidays. Remember that generally the holiday schedule takes precedent over the regular weekly parenting schedule.
Give Reasonable Notice of Plans. Let your ex know your holiday plans and any travel plans ahead of time, and coordinate plans with each other particularly if holiday time is split for each holiday depending of what your holiday custodial schedule is. Each parent should give the other parent a travel itinerary that includes flight information, dates of departure and return, and contact information of where you will be, in the event that there is an emergency.
Be Fair. If your ex wants more time for a particular holiday or needs some flexibility on your part one year for a holiday due to travel arrangements that may impact part of your holiday time, give it. You may need some flexibility the next time around. Working together in such a fashion is only going to make co-parenting easier.
Do The Right Thing for Your Children. Just because your marriage or relationship with the other parent has ended, that does not mean that you cannot spend time together for a family holiday dinner. Your kids should not suffer because of the end of your marriage. Moreover, your children need to have a relationship with extended family such as grandparents, cousins, etc. and oftentimes holidays are the only times families and extended families can all get together. Don’t deny your children access to the other parent’s extended family just because you want an extra couple hours on a holiday or some petty reason.
Don’t Try to Top The Other Parent. Talk with the other parent and discuss what plans they have for gifts for the children and consider sharing some of the cost. But don’t use that information to then spite the other parent by topping them with more expensive gifts in an effort to win favor over the children.
Remember that Thanksgiving is a time for reflection of what you are most thankful for. That can include being thankful that although your relationship may have ended, you and your ex have been able to create a peaceful, functional co-parenting relationship that you can be proud of. If you can do that, your children will in turn be thankful to you both.
Gerald A. Maggio is an experienced Orange County divorce attorney and family law attorney located in Irvine, California, serving the Orange County and Riverside areas. Mr. Maggio assists clients with legal issues including divorce, legal separation, divorce mediation, child custody, prenuptial agreements, stepparent adoptions, and other family law issues. Mr. Maggio has practiced law in California since 1999, and founded The Maggio Law Firm in 2005, focusing exclusively on divorce and family law matters.