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Is it possible to celebrate the holidays together post-divorce?

Whether it is your first holiday as a divorced parent or you've done the seasonal shuffle several times, it's normal to wonder if it's possible to have the holidays as a full-family event. Holiday parenting time is usually determined by court order, but it is possible to come up with your own arrangement if both you and your ex can agree. However, there are some things to keep in mind as you try to navigate a joint holiday.

The first thing to consider is your relationship with your ex. Are your discussions friendly? Can you productively communicate about the children and problem solve without the conversation turning to blaming and legal threats? If not, that's normal, but it may mean that your joint holiday plans are best left for a time when things are calmer and everyone is better emotionally recovered from the divorce.

If, however, you're relationship with your ex is mostly positive and civil, trying to celebrate the holidays jointly may work out. To encourage this outcome, make sure to have open and honest discussions about your expectations and what you both want. Maybe you both really want to be there when the kids open presents, but you'd like to do your extended family holiday parties separately. If either of you are in serious relationships or have remarried, it may be helpful to get the new partners' opinions as well.

If all goes well, you may decide to make this a more permanent arrangement. In many cases, it is possible to go back and have a shared parenting arrangement modified to change the stipulations and how the holidays are handled to reflect the continued best interest of the children.

Source: DivorceCare for Kids, "Thinking about Celebrating the Holidays with Your Ex?," Linda Ranson Jacobs, accessed Dec. 04, 2015

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