Divorce is tough on everyone, but most parents will impact the kids. The first few Christmases after a divorce can be particularly hard, as this is a time of year when families traditionally get together, meaning that the change to the family dynamic can be especially noticeable.
So, how can you keep the magic of Christmas alive for your children, despite these difficult circumstances? Below are some suggestions from our experience dealing with issues of child custody and divorce settlements that we hope you find helpful.
Plan ahead with your ex-spouse
While it’s important to be mindful of your own emotions and well-being in these conversations, communicating with your ex-spouse well ahead of time to make sure things run as smoothly as possible over the festive period is crucial.
If you have an order from a family court about child custody that includes provisions specifically to do with holidays, it’s important that you follow this. However, if you don’t, it’s up to you and your former partner to devise a plan that puts the least amount of tension on everyone.
Importantly, we recommend that you make sure your children are part of this conversation. Of course, that can be tricky if they’re very young, but, generally speaking, it’s better to formulate a plan together, rather than imposing one upon them. If you don’t live close to your ex-partner, one of the toughest decisions can be who gets to have the children on Christmas itself. Allowing them to voice opinions on what they would like to do is one way to avoid arguments and tension between you and your ex.
Start new traditions
Whether it’s decorating the Christmas tree, firing up the BBQ or heading for a family beach day, one of the hardest things for kids at Christmas following a divorce is the inability to do things you used to enjoy together as a family. So, why not start some new traditions that you can follow in this new family setting for years to come? You don’t necessarily need to bin everything you used to do with your ex, but creating new traditions helps the children focus on new things, rather than on what they’re missing.
Don’t try to out-compete your ex on gifts
Sometimes, ex-partners can try to out-do each other when it comes to buying gifts for their kids for Christmas. This inevitably leads to conflict and stress, particularly if one side feels they can’t keep up with the spending power of the other. If you’re on good terms with your ex, it’s a good idea to talk about the gifts you’re considering buying. This not only helps to avoid competition but also the unfortunate situation where you both buy the same thing. In situations where you don’t want to have this conversation, being honest with your children if you can’t buy them the gift they’ve been asking for is the best policy, rather than simply telling them that this is what they’re getting because you said so.
Lean into your extended family
As well as the new dynamic of your immediate family unit, you also need to think about how the divorce will impact your extended relatives. If your children love a visit to Granny and Grandad’s at Christmas, do everything you can to make this happen. This is important not only for your children and their grandparents, but you’ll probably also find the support offered by your family to be comforting at a time which is also testing for you.
If you have questions about child custody during important holiday periods such as Christmas, the experienced team at Testart Family Lawyers are here to help. To find out more about what we can do for you, get in touch with our team today.