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Navigating the holidays as a divorced parent

As the holiday season gets underway, recently divorced parents may have some tough decisions ahead - most importantly, determining who gets the kids for the holidays.

In some respects, Florida laws have already anticipated this important and often contentious issue. In Florida, custody and visitation have been replaced by "timesharing" and "parenting plans," inclusive terms that aim to give children equal access to both parents. This means that most divorced parents share parenting time equally, including important holidays like Thanksgiving, Hanukkah and Christmas.

You should have worked out a plan for sharing the holidays as part of your parenting plan negotiations. A common compromise is to divide holidays by even and odd years, for example. Even if this is part of your plan, you should:

  • Review your parenting plan to ensure you and your co-parent are on the same page. You may have finalized this plan months ago. Reminding yourself of what was decided and checking in with your co-parent can go a long way to preventing unnecessary fights in the next few weeks.
  • Talk to your co-parent about your holiday plans now. Communication is key to successful co-parenting after divorce. By making a plan now, you can avoid adding stress to a typically already-stressful time the week before your child's winter vacation.

What if we disagree about the holiday schedule?

It happens - one parent has new plans for the holidays and would like to have the children for a special event not anticipated by your parenting plan. If you cannot come to an agreement on your own, you may want to enlist the help of a parenting coordinator.

A parenting coordinator's job is to provide education, facilitate discussion and ultimately help parents work out mutually acceptable resolutions post-divorce within the parameters of their parenting plan. In Fort Myers, you can contact Family Court Services of the 20th Judicial Circuit Court to enlist the help of a parenting coordinator to determine how to resolve disputes about holiday timesharing.

Putting your kids' needs first

Ultimately, you want what's best for your children. That usually means having parents who can work together, if even if they no longer live together. Our family law firm keeps your children's best interests at the heart of everything we do. Learn more by visiting our website.

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