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Thinking ahead to next year: Planning Christmas after divorce

Do you already know that this is your last Christmas with your kids and spouse as a united family? If so, you aren't alone.

It isn't unusual for the holidays to make people realize that they just can't continue in a marriage and simultaneously postpone doing anything about it for a few more weeks in order to keep from upsetting the kids and extended family until after the holiday has passed.

However, this does give you an opportunity to think ahead about what's important to include in your parenting plan. A good parenting plan can help you avoid a number of family legal issues in the future.

You and your attorney will eventually need to discuss not just everyday parenting schedules but how you'll handle future holidays. Take note of some of the following things during this year's holiday season so you can discuss them with your attorney later:

  1. What parts of the holiday are most important to you? Is it the annual Christmas parade and Christmas Eve? Is it the family Christmas dinner with your parents, siblings and extended family? If so, you want to negotiate for as many of those specific dates and times as possible.
  2. What parts of the holiday are clearly most important to your spouse? Take note of what really matters to your spouse and use that information to negotiate for something you want more.
  3. What guidelines do you want to include when it comes to introducing your children to future significant others? Those issues tend to arise particularly during the holiday season.
  4. What expectations do you have regarding religious activities during the holiday season? That's an issue that's important to discuss well in advance in order to avoid major holiday upsets.
  5. What type of flexibility needs to be considered? Bad weather and illness can disrupt the most carefully laid plans. What type of backup visitation plans do you need?

While it may seem calculating to spend the holiday taking note of the things that you want to negotiate with or for after your divorce, the reality is that a divorce is not much different than any business deal. By approaching your divorce that way now, you're more likely to have a satisfactory plan for your future.

Source: thespruce.com, "What to Include in Your Parenting Plan," Jennifer Wolf, Dec. 06, 2017

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