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Child custody does not have to be a holiday battle

A divorced couple may be co-parenting pretty well, but they may be dreading the holidays. Perhaps for the past year, the two of them were able to figure out child custody arrangements that suited everyone, and they want to make sure the kids have the holiday traditions they remember from before the divorce. However, one parent expects that the other will call the day before the holiday to say he or she wants to take the children to celebrate with relatives outside of Pennsylvania.

While holidays and other special occasions tend to upset the careful balance one parent has with an ex, preemptive planning may alleviate some of the stress the holiday brings. For example, discussing gift-giving with one's co-parent may avoid awkward situations in which two parents compete for the affection of the children with outrageous gifts. It may be helpful to coordinate with one's ex regarding the continuation or modification of any holiday traditions the children especially look forward to.

The most challenging compromise may be scheduling. Parents may find that the holidays go more smoothly if they discuss their schedules ahead of time. Advisors recommend getting any agreements in writing -- even if it is an email – and not waiting until the last minute. Letting the children in on the proposed schedule may relieve some of their anxiety.

Making these agreements ahead of time also gives a Pennsylvania parent the chance to see if the co-parent is willing to cooperate. It is possible that one former spouse will stubbornly refuse to make accommodations for the holidays. He or she may also indicate the intention to defy court-ordered child custody arrangements. If this is the case, broaching the subject early will give one a chance to contact an attorney for help and advice.

Source: The Huffington Post, "Tips to Survive the Holidays for Divorced Parents", Kyung Dickerson and Alan Plevy, Dec. 2, 2016

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