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Divorce: Will this be your first co-parenting holiday season?

As the autumn season kicks off, many Michigan parents are gearing up for the holidays. From households that celebrate Halloween to moms or dads who want to get a jump on Thanksgiving preparations or Christmas shopping, those who have recently settled a divorce may have additional issues to discuss as well. Co-parenting during the holidays can be stressful, especially the first time around.

Discussing holiday plans well in advance can help keep stress to a minimum after divorce. Many parents incorporate terms and instructions for the holidays into their child custody agreements. Co-parents may choose to attend holiday gatherings at the same time or customize a plan to trade off every holiday or annually. There is no right or wrong way to do it and co-parents can choose a system that works best for their children.

Many unexpected issues can arise to disrupt holiday plans. A co-parent might be scheduled to have parenting time for Thanksgiving, for instance, then suddenly be unable to host the gathering because of illness. It is always best to agree to be flexible and willing to change plans if unforeseen circumstances arise.

Michigan parents who divorce before the holidays may also want to map out a plan for gift giving. Will the expenses be shared or will each parent simply buy gifts for the children? If the latter is preferred, it helps to inform each other ahead of time to avoid duplicate gifts. Sometimes, legal complications regarding co-parenting can disrupt the holidays, such as if a parent is disregarding a court order or refuses to cooperate to create a fair and agreeable plan. An experienced family law attorney can provide support to help resolve such issues.