Even amicable divorces can be difficult on parents and children in California. All parties often experience real sadness and, in many cases, anger over the dissolution of a marriage. These emotions can surface during the holiday season, particularly during the first few years after a divorce.
Marriage and family experts generally advise parents to take the lead in making the holiday season a happy one for themselves and their children. This often means being willing to accommodate the children's desires as well as the other parent's family event schedule.
It also means encouraging children to enjoy the holidays with both households. When helping children get ready to go spend time with their other parent, one should be positive and encouraging for the child to have a good time. In addition, parents should avoid interrogating their kids after returning from a celebration with the other parent. The holidays are a time for positive relationships.
When parents divorce, holiday considerations are often addressed in parenting agreements. In general, parents should expect to adhere to these agreements. However, they may also opt to be flexible to allow for changes in schedules and circumstances.
After a divorce, parents may initially agree to allow children to spend Christmas Eve with one parent and then Christmas Day with the other, switching the days each year. However, one parent may eventually move some distance away from the other, which could make an agreement like this logistically difficult, if not impossible. In such cases, parents may choose to modify their agreements to allow one parent to alternate having the kids for holidays each year.
An experienced family law attorney could advise clients on developing a fair holiday visitation schedule. The attorney may also be able to assist in modifying a parenting plan that does not work for the family.