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Tips to manage child custody during the holidays

The holidays are stressful enough, never mind holidays that also involve a child custody arrangement with a former spouse. When there are children involved in a divorce, sharing custody over the holiday season is rarely easy.

That said, there are a few things that you can do to make your child custody arrangement easier for everybody over the holidays. With these useful tips, you can be one step closer to a happy holiday season:

  • Check your parenting plan

The first thing that you should do is double-check your custody arrangement or parenting plan so that you and your spouse are aware of the upcoming holiday schedule. Knowing for sure who will be where and at what time will prevent a lot of confusion.

  • Cope gracefully

Requesting a change in a holiday schedule may not always work out. Sometimes, you may have to gracefully accept a "no" from your ex.

  • Figure out what you really want

Decide what you really want for the custody schedule over the holidays, and be specific. It is sometimes easier to request changes in a schedule for specific events like a holiday party or concert, rather than a general change of plans.

  • Communicate clearly

Use clear, effective communication with your spouse regarding your wishes for the holiday schedule. Ask your ex to be clear about his or her wishes as well. When communicating, be as calm and amicable as possible.

  • Consider recent adjustments

If you have recently requested other schedule changes, it may not work out to request even more changes near the holidays. If your ex has made many changes, then you may have more leeway in keeping the schedule how you want it.

  • Compromise

As you and your ex must already know, sometimes compromise is the best--and only--way to reach a custody decision. Be prepared to cede some of your requests in order to keep others.

  • Protect the children

For children of divorce, the holidays are frequently stressful and confusing. Knowing that their parents are quarreling can negatively impact children's enjoyment of the season. Do not leave important decisions to the children: This is far too heavy a burden for their shoulders. Protect your children's emotions by keeping them out of negotiations with your ex-partner.

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