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Sharing nicely during the holidays

After a divorce, there are many challenges and changes you and your children must contend with, from dealing with handoffs during the school year and the coordination of medical appointments and your children's after-school activities. One of the most jarring is likely to be your first holiday season as a divorced family.

During the divorce process, developing a comprehensive parenting plan that holistically looks at your entire year, and adequately splits your children's time between each parent is fundamental. Creating a plan that sets the proper expectations and is realistic and viable is crucial.

If you or your spouse travel a significant portion of the time for work, that needs to be part of the parenting plan, and may result in less than a 50/50 sharing. But dealing with this up front in the plan is better than one parent attempting to haphazardly reschedule at the last minute, week after week.

Having your holidays and other important events scheduled also allows you to set the proper expectations with your children and to make alternative arrangements with other members of your family, to allow celebrations to occur even if they need to take place on other days.

It is important to create the new traditions that will work best with your new family situation. In the first year, you may want to minimize the disruption, and if you have a new significant other, you avoid inserting them into your specific family holiday events.

Gradual change may be easier for most children. If you and your children's other parent can see past your differences and recognize what is important for your children, setting a time for something like an exchange of presents together that is focused on the children can help their transition.

By having an organized plan that sets exceptions in advance and limits potential for conflict, you can help your children have a happy holiday season, and you too will benefit from their success.

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