The holiday season can be a stressful time for divorced parents. Of course, if your divorce took place in Indiana, your decree sets forth which parent gets the children for which holidays. In fact, the Indiana Parenting Guidelines (if your decree follows this) even set forth the times that the children are with each parent on a holiday. However, divorced parents know that holidays when you have children are more complicated than where the children are physically located on the holiday.
First, there are the logistics. If you have the children on Christmas morning and are then responsible for transporting the children from Zionsville to Noblesville by 1:00 p.m., that can certainly put a damper on your Christmas. After all, you are likely not the only one who wants to spend time with your children during Christmas. Grandparents, aunts/uncles, and cousins are also going to be disappointed if they aren’t able to see your children on Christmas. There really isn’t a lot of time for everyone if you have to leave by noon on Christmas to drop the children with your ex in Noblesville. One solution for Indiana couples that may work is to agree to deviate from Indiana parenting guidelines and to keep the children all day for Thanksgiving or Christmas in alternating years. Of course, it will be sad not to have your children with you for major holidays, but it may be worth it to you to have interrupted time in your years with the Children.
Second, there is the overlap. Hopefully, you and your ex-spouse are in a place where you can discuss Christmas gifts to avoid buying your children the same gift. You can imagine the disappointment for both the children and your ex if he or she opens the same gift from your ex that was opened just a few hours ago from you. Children can be instructed to give one list to Mommy and one list to Daddy, but lets face it….sometimes children aren’t going to get this one right. Communication is key. Just the same way your children likely end up with clothing you purchased at your ex’s home, the same is likely to occur for Christmas presents. Unless you and your spouse can afford to buy two of everything for each household, it is best to discuss gifts….text message is great for these quick “heads up.”
Third, holidays are expensive. If you aren’t remarried or living with a significant other post-divorce you know this all too well. After all, operating a household on one income is certainly more difficult in most situations than operating a household on two incomes. Not only do you likely have less money to spend on holiday gifts, you may not be able to do all of the holiday activities/traditions that you used to enjoy with your children. This can be a heartbreaking reality for newly divorced parents. Do yourself a favor and cut yourself a break. Your children will see that you are doing the best that you can and they are going to enjoy spending time with you. Get creative and start new traditions that don’t cost money. Instead of taking a trip to Florida between Christmas and New Years, drive around a neighborhood with great Christmas lights while drinking hot chocolate. Begin new traditions with your post-divorce family.
Finally, try to concentrate on the great time that you are going to spend with your children this holiday season instead of concentrating on the time that you won’t be spending with them. In fact, try to go even further and realize that there are some things in your-post divorce life that you aren’t going to be able to control. This may even include your ex-spouse. While it is certainly not alright for your ex to violate your custody agreement (during the holidays or otherwise), do your best not to let the little things that your ex does or doesn’t do get under your skin. Chances are that there were a lot of things about your ex-spouse that you didn’t like, which is why you are no longer married. Unfortunately, if your ex-spouse isn’t a great parent there is probably no way that you are going to make them a great parent. Let the little things that your ex does wrong roll of your back as well as you can and concentrate on something you can control, which is being a the best parent that you can for your children post-divorce.
Halcomb Singler, LLP, represents central Indiana residents in divorce, child/family issue and post-divorce issue cases. Please note that this blog is not legal advice and no internet search can substitute for the advice of a qualified divorce lawyer. If you would like to meet with a divorce attorney at Halcomb Singler, LLP, call us at (317) 575-8222 or click here.