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For many people, the holidays are a time of family gatherings and happy memories.  However, for recently divorced couples with children, the holidays present a myriad of issues.  Who will have the kids on Christmas morning? How will visits with extended family members be managed? Who decides what to buy and how much to spend on Christmas gifts? Can the ex-spouses manage to be in the same room together? Even after a divorce in NJ, the holidays can be a joyful time if the divorced parents intentionally keep it that way. If the problems get out of hand with your former spouse, you need to speak to an experienced NJ child custody lawyer.


Preparation is key.  Conversations about visitation schedules, gifts, and special events should be had weeks, if not months ahead of time. Talking to your ex might still be painful.  Keep conversations focused on the task at hand.  Resist the urge to take jabs at one another or to bring up old wounds. Try to remember that you both love your children and that moving forward in a healthy co-parenting dynamic will benefit them immensely.


Provide opportunities for your children to spend time with both sides of the family.  This may mean that your holidays are more hectic than they used to be.  If so, talk with extended family members about your concerns.  Do your best to allow opportunities for family celebration, but don’t sacrifice all your time with your children on the altar of extended family relationships. 


Create new traditions. Did your ex always cook a turkey for Christmas dinner?  Rather than trying to continue the tradition by assuming your ex’s role and cooking the same thing yourself, transform Christmas dinner into your own culinary masterpiece.  Even if that means frozen pizza or having breakfast for dinner.  As much as you may want things to stay the same for your children, things are different now.  Turn that difference into something fun and new rather than focusing on the loss associated with it.


Keep a positive attitude. Your first holiday season after a divorce will be hard.  There is no escaping that.  But your attitude can go a long way in making it easier.  Embrace optimism.  Engage in the magical excitement that your kids feel about the holiday season.  Have fun together. Focus on the positive things ahead and creating a new and healthy family dynamic.


Above all, keep it civil. The end of a marriage leaves wounds and scars.  Yours may not be healed yet and that’s okay. Your partnership as a married couple is over, but parenthood continues.  Even though you aren’t married anymore, you are still both parents to your children and the holidays are an opportunity to show a united front and ensure them that they still have two parents who love and care for them.


If have gone through a divorce in NJ or are contemplating filing a divorce, call the Peter Van Aulen an experienced NJ child custody lawyer today at (201) 845-7400 for a free initial consultation.


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