In 2008, the U.S. Census Bureau began asking the American public a series of questions about divorce for the very first time. These 2008 statistics ultimately revealed that 9.3 percent of men and 11.9 percent of women had divorced over the course of the last year.
Flash forward to 2012 -- the most recent year for which survey estimates are available -- and the Census Bureau found that the rate of divorce had inched upward with 9.8 percent of men and 12.4 percent of women ending their marriages over the course of the last year.
In light of this uptick in the number of divorces over the last several years, most people would naturally assume that this has resulted in a corresponding increase in the number of former spouses choosing to spend the holidays apart out of bitterness.
According to family experts, however, this is actually far from the case, as more and more former spouses are actually coming together to celebrate not just the holidays, but many other events and milestones.
How are these divorcing couples able to overcome any lingering animosity, and occupy a productive and positive presence in each other's lives?
Experts say these couples are simply realizing that they can choose to handle things any way they wish and don't automatically have to dislike one another just because societal conventions say so. Furthermore, they are also realizing that the ability to come together and put any anger aside can be incredibly beneficial for their children.
To illustrate how all this might work, consider the case of a New Jersey couple who recently divorced after nearly two decades of marriage, and who have two sons, ages 14 and 12.
While you would think that the sons would be spending their first Christmas apart from one of their parents, this is not the case. Come the morning of December 25, their father will come over to the family house to eat breakfast and open presents with them and his now-ex.
When queried as to how such an arrangement might work over the holidays, the former husband's now-ex was surprisingly clear. "My answer to that was, 'We can make this what we want to. There are no rules.'"
Still, experts caution that while these types of arrangements may seem easier and altogether preferable for the parties involved, they may not work for every couple and distance may still prove to be the best course of action.
If you would like to learn more about divorce, child custody or divorce alternatives, you should strongly consider consulting with an experienced attorney who can outline your options and enforce your rights.
Source: USA Today, "Ex-spouses can get along -- and not just for the holidays," Sharon Jayson, Dec. 23, 2013