Keeping the Peace During the Holidays

5 Tips for Navigating Holiday Plans during and after a divorce

Divorce is challenging at the best of times, and during the holidays it can be particularly strenuous. This is especially true when you have children!

Logistical fiascoes, loaded questions from family members, and tension around the dinner table are just a handful of the things you may be anticipating. Fortunately, there are some measures that you can take ahead of time to ensure a more peaceful holiday season.

Here are 5 tips for navigating divorce during the holiday season.

#1: Communicate Holiday Plans and Expectations 

Tension between you and your ex-spouse (or soon to be ex) is expected in most cases, but it’s important to get on the same page about your holiday plans. Knowing what to expect will make the holiday more comfortable for you and your children.

This could include coming up with a game-plan about what topics to avoid, agreeing not to discuss the divorce in front of your children, and putting a hold on any ongoing arguments.

Occasional compromise may be necessary, but it will help you preserve the holiday as sacred, especially for your children.

#2: Figure Out Logistics Well in Advance 

Plan out logistics beforehand so that logistical issues aren’t inflicted on your kids! Similarly to our first point, the logistical plans of family visits, travel, and exchanging your children need to be discussed well in advance. Scrambling over last minute plans, or arguing about it while your child waits in limbo, creates unnecessary distress.

Co-parenting during the holidays will often result in lots of juggling schedules. Make sure your children know the plan and what to expect!

We recommend tools like Our Family Wizard, which helps your family create a co-parenting blueprint. It is one of many such tools available. An online family schedule planner allows you to minimize direct contact with your ex, if that’s your goal. It gives both of you a constant reference for logistics.

#3: Don’t Badmouth Your Former Partner in Front of Your Children 

While you may have negative feelings about your former spouse, it’s important not to badmouth them in front of your child.

Venting about the circumstances of your divorce, and the way you’re feeling, is absolutely valid and there are appropriate outlets for this, such as online support groups and counseling. Your children are simply not this outlet. Even if they share some of your sentiments, it will only serve to make them feel sad or bitter during a joyous season or at any time.

#4: Create New Traditions 

When the trauma of a divorce is still fresh, it’s hard to imagine the holiday plans being joyful, especially when so many holiday memories seem tainted. That’s why it’s important to start creating new traditions that will help you and your children form new memories quickly.

The creation of new traditions will not only help you, but will help your children to cope during and after the divorce. And if you aren’t a parent, forming traditions with friends and family members can create both a short-term distraction and a long-term source of joy for years to come.

#5: Make a Game-plan with Your Lawyer 

If you’re in the midst of a divorce, or just beginning the process, the holidays may seem like a time to pause. However, now is an important time to discuss the next steps following the holidays with a divorce attorney. This can give you peace of mind, knowing that you still have direction, even if you put them on hold for the sake of your children (or your own sanity).

Major divorce decisions should probably not be made during the holiday season, but you and your lawyer can certainly lay the foundation for your next steps in January.

You will also want to keep holiday plans in mind when discussing custody with your lawyer. Custody issues for children, or even pets for some couples, become increasingly complex during this season.

 Stay Grounded and Hopeful 

It’s a common phrase you’ll hear during this process – “life doesn’t end after a divorce” – but it’s an important reminder during the holidays. You can continue to thrive, make great memories, and experience joyous holidays.

Taking these preventative steps above will help the transition flow a little smoother. There’s a lot of hope ahead.

If you’re still in the stage of anticipating a divorce, but haven’t begun the process, be sure to go through a preparatory checklist and to speak with your lawyer sooner rather than later. Even if you’re just testing the waters and weighing your options, a smooth-as-possible divorce is better for you AND your children. An experienced lawyer like Kelly J. Capps will be able to advise you on the exact options available to you. To arrange a consultation with Kelly J. Capps of Capps Law Firm, PLLC, please call our Austin office at (512) 338-9800.

This article does not create an attorney-client relationship. Its purpose is to educate the public about the topic of family law. This article should not be seen as legal advice. You should consult with an attorney before you rely on this information.