Who Gets the Kids for Christmas? Tips for Navigating the Holidays During a Divorce When Children are Involved
Dear April Masini,
I'm in the middle of a divorce and this is the first major holiday after my split from my husband and I'm not too sure how to handle it. Should my kids spend the holiday with me and my new boyfriend or their father? Or do I throw a family dinner and invite their father as well? What should I do in the future? I want everyone to get along well and for things to go smoothly! Do you have any tips on what's best for my kids this holiday season?"
Where Do The Kids Spend The Holidays?
April Masini's Advice :
Dear Where Do The Kids Spend The Holidays?,
You're not the only one who wants to know the answer to this question. I receive lots of similar e-mails from readers asking how to split up the holidays, either because of divorce or family obligations. Here are a few tips and strategies families like yours can try to employ.
- Plan ahead of time. For anyone divorcing, splitting up the holidays for a custody schedule is not a pleasant task, but it is necessary and if you do it sooner rather than later you will avoid combining fighting over the splitting of the holidays with the actual split. In other words, split the holidays in the custody agreement before the judge signs off on it to avoid fighting down the line.
- Alternate years. One year mom gets the kids for Christmas and the dad gets them for New Year’s -- the next year, the reverse is true. Spell this out in the custody agreement. In fact, spell out the exact time that the custody schedule takes place — 2 p.m. on the Friday before Christmas — or whatever it is. Be exact because it will help to avoid doing it later.
- Tell the kids in advance of the schedule. They will handle the split better if they know what the schedule is and that both parents agreed on it.
- Send the children off with a happy face. Make sure that if you are not with your children, you are doing something to take care of yourself on the holidays, that the kids know where you will be, what you are doing, and when you will next meet up or talk on the phone, or both.