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Photo of attorneys Nicholas A Jones and Alyssa L Hawkins

Handling child custody during the holidays can be hard

The holiday season is usually a time of celebration and joy, but divorce can complicate beloved family traditions. As a parent, you may be concerned about where your children will spend Thanksgiving, if you will see them at Christmas or whether you will be able to participate in other seasonal holidays together. While you might feel alone, these are surprisingly common child custody matters that most divorced parents in Alabama deal with.

If you are still adjusting to a new life as a single parent sharing custody with your ex, figuring out your holiday parenting schedule for the very first time will be an understandably emotional experience. However, it does not have to be miserable. Here are a few tips to help you get through the process.

Compromise is key

Before negotiating the holiday parenting schedule, decide what you feel is most important for you. Is it taking your children to see their grandparents on Thanksgiving? Tucking them in on Christmas Eve? Counting down to midnight on New Year’s Eve?

Answering these questions is important because you will not be able to spend the entire holiday season with your children. If you spend the entire negotiations desperately grabbing for every bit of time you can get, you may end up giving up what meant most to you in the first place. Decide what is important to you, and be willing to compromise on the rest.

The earlier — and more creative — the better

The last few months of the year are notoriously busy. Between holidays, the end of the school year wrapping up and dozens of obligations for holiday parties and gift exchanges, time is a tight commodity. This is also the time of year when you may feel more stressed than usual. Try establishing a holiday parenting plan as early as you can; it will help everyone.

However, sharing this time of year with your ex usually means you have to get creative in your approach. This includes doing things like hosting an early gift exchange with your extended family, or decorating the tree earlier than you usually do.

Don’t forget about your children’s best interests

As in all matters involving child custody, the ultimate goal of your holiday parenting plan should be to respect and uphold the best interests of your children. Remember, it is not just your or your ex’s traditions that you are trying to maintain, it is your children’s too.

Even the most amicable co-parents often find that figuring out parenting schedules during the holidays is difficult. For those who find that negotiating this aspect of child custody among themselves is impossible or otherwise ruining the spirit of the holidays, there is another option. An attorney experienced in Alabama can usually provide invaluable guidance on these types of sensitive family law matters.

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