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Any way you slice it, turkey day may be stressful after divorce

If you are one of many parents in Texas whose summer agenda included getting divorced, you may be feeling a bit anxious and worried about your first upcoming holiday season ahead. It's likely been quite some time since you were single, and celebrating the holidays as a single parent may present additional challenges in your festivities. It's quite possible, however, not only to survive your first post-divorce holiday season (and future ones as well) but to actually enjoy yourself and build happy memories with your kids.

Several key ideas may help you set the tone for a successful Thanksgiving and holiday season to follow. Even if you have a fairly solid plan in mind, it doesn't necessarily mean there won't be any snags; if you focus on your children's best interests, know your rights and where to turn for help in a pinch, you can usually overcome even the most difficult obstacles.

Ways to keep holiday stress to a minimum after divorce

An important distinction to make from the start is that your regular child custody and visitation arrangement is separate from any holiday agreement you might forge. While it is definitely possible to include stipulations regarding holidays and special events in your agreed upon parenting plan, it's generally best to decide the day-to-day issues first, then add the extras. The following list provides ideas that may help you avoid stress and set the tone for a truly happy Thanksgiving and many joyful holidays ahead:

  • There are typically several high priority issues regarding children that take precedence over others when you divorce; such issues most often include where your children will live, whether you and your former spouse will share custody, as well as what your regular visitation schedule will be if only one parent has sole physical custody. If your divorce is already finalized, these issues were likely already worked out in court. If you did not include plans regarding holidays, you may renegotiate and request modification to your existing court order to add such statements later.
  • In order to create a holiday plan that is fair and agreeable, you and your spouse can each write down a list of special dates, including national holidays, religious celebrations, birthdays or any other special events, then number your individual lists in order of how important it is to each of you to spend said days with your children. If there's a conflict and you both want to be with your children on the same date, cooperation and compromise will be necessary to resolve the problem.
  • Some former spouses share holidays together for the sakes of their children. If you get along well enough and are able to set any existing differences you might have aside, this might be an option for you. If not, then you would probably fare best if you get everything in writing, specifying who gets your kids on which holidays, then have it approved by the court.

You can even create a rotating schedule per year, if you like, so you spend Thanksgiving with your children one year and their other parent gets them the next. There is no right or wrong or legal regulations regarding your holiday parenting plan. It's a customizable situation that you can arrange by whatever terms best suit your family's needs and goals. If you have an existing court order that includes holiday agreements, and your former spouse refuses to adhere, you can access immediate support to rectify the situation.

In fact, many Texas parents who divorce keep lines of communication open with their family law attorneys, just in case problems like this arise.

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