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Navigating the holiday season when you share custody

Making the holidays a memorable and joyous occasion for your children requires weeks of planning, shopping and scheduling with others. However, the holiday season often becomes more of a challenge when you have to split the celebration across two households.

For many parents sharing custody in New Jersey, the holidays are difficult. Some parents overextend themselves financially trying to buy enough gifts or plan a special family trip to make up for the stress the children have experienced due to recent family changes. Instead of setting a very difficult-to-match standard for holiday celebrations or gifts, a better approach may be to establish pleasant and reasonable traditions that the children can look forward to every year.

Proper parenting coordination with your ex also helps.

Holidays create unique scheduling considerations

While you may have a basic custody agreement with your ex establishing a specific breakdown of parenting time and a general schedule for your family to follow, scheduling situations quickly become more complex around the holidays. Both of you will probably want to be with the children on special days, which means that you will have to have some difficult discussions about what is fair and practical for your family.

Especially if there are travel plans, frequent communication about scheduling will be crucial if you want to provide your children with an enjoyable holiday season. Regardless of how you actually divide parenting time around the holidays, both of you should try to keep the other informed and involved.

Gift coordination is important as well

The presents that you purchase for your children can leave a lasting impact. Too many parents compete with their ex around the holidays, each trying to outdo the other.

You might consider discussing the large gifts your children want, whether they ask for new mobile devices or video game systems, with the other parent. Communicating about what you intend to purchase and cooperating with one another is often preferable to competing, withholding information and possibly duplicating each other’s presents.

With appropriate communication, good parental coordination during the holiday season can make a big difference in how much stress the parents and the kids alike experience.

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