Terry L. Hart, Attorney at Law
713-581-1773

Is your co-parenting plan holiday ready?

In Texas and throughout the country, most households are gearing up for this year's holiday season. Do you cook a large feast for family and friends on Thanksgiving? Perhaps, like many other people, you travel to a loved one's home or take a mini-vacation with your family; after all, beach house prices are typically a lot lower in the off-season. As a recently divorced parent, you might be wondering how the changes in your life are going to affect your children during the holidays.

It's definitely a common concern among parents in similar situations. If you and your ex are on friendly terms, are willing to compromise and can work together for your children's sake, you can likely anticipate a joyful holiday season ahead. On the other hand, if your relationship is a bit contentious, you'll want to make sure you create a solid plan ahead of time to avoid confusion and arguing during the holidays.

What's best for your kids?

No matter what your family traditions or customs are or which holidays you celebrate, one of the highest priorities in divorce is determining what is best for your children. Would they prefer having both parents under the same roof for Thanksgiving, Hanukkah or Christmas? If so, perhaps, you and your ex can agree to set your differences aside on those occasions so that your kids can enjoy spending time with both parents at the same time.

If the thought of spending the holidays with your ex makes you shudder, you might want to come up with a different type of plan. For instance, it might work out well if your ex spends Christmas Eve with the kids and you have them with you on Christmas Day. Then again, you can choose any day of the week or weekend to celebrate; it need not be the actual calendar date of a specific holiday.

Write it, agree to it, then sign it

You might think it's not necessary to incorporate rules about the holidays into your co-parenting agreement; however, many parents have learned the hard way that it's typically the best route to take. Not having the terms of your agreement in writing leaves a lot of room for confusion, debate and even potential legal problems.

The court can approve your agreement, which makes it a legally enforceable document. You and your ex are both obligated to adhere to the terms, which makes it a lot easier to resolve an issue if a problem arises because everything is in writing. This means, for example, if your court order states that you get to spend a particular holiday with your kids, your spouse cannot spontaneously take them on vacation during that time.

Tread lightly when it comes to new relationships

While your kids are likely doing their best to adapt to a post-divorce lifestyle, introducing a new romantic partner to them is definitely a serious issue of concern. Whether you should do so during the holidays is a personal decision that you must take under serious consideration. 

You and your ex might also wish to discuss such issues ahead of time and, perhaps, incorporate terms into your co-parent agreement about such matters. If you insist on meeting your ex's new partner before your kids do, for instance, you can make it an agreed-upon rule. Working together as a team with your ex and knowing where to seek support are key issues that can help you and your children move on in life after divorce, especially during the holidays.

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Terry L. Hart, Attorney at Law
4265 San Felipe Street
Suite 1100
Houston, TX 77027

Toll Free: 877-576-7390
Phone: 713-581-1773
Fax: 713-968-9817
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