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Managing divorce issues with children during the holidays

The end of a marriage can be a challenge for Minnesota couples with children during any time of the year. The stress that sometimes goes along with post-divorce co-parenting can be even greater during the holiday season, especially with the increased shuffling of kids back and forth between homes. This increased contact also boosts the odds for unexpected dilemmas and conflicts. Having a clear playbook for dealing with divorce during the holidays when children are involved may make things easier for everyone.

Holiday-related issues can be even more impactful for newly separated families adjusting to different dynamics for the first time, although long-time divorced parents can be equally affected. Regardless of the recentness of a divorce, people are encouraged to focus on what's best for their children by putting aside lingering feelings of anger and resentment. If this is difficult, individuals may benefit from support from friends, other adult family members or a therapist. Taking such steps may reduce the risk of parents letting personal animosity interfere with decisions about how their children spend the holidays.

It can also be helpful to clarify holiday plans in advance, so children know what to expect. For instance, parents might work out pickup and drop-off arrangements specific to adjusted schedules during the holiday break from school. When a child returns from the other home, it's advised that a person avoid overwhelming him or her with questions about his or her experience or make attempts to compete with his or her former spouse. Children may also adjust better if they are encouraged to embrace new traditions while still holding onto certain meaningful ones.

While custody and visitation issues are typically worked out during the divorce process, a lawyer may be able to help someone make reasonable adjustments during the holidays. An attorney can also offer advice specific to custody disputes that may arise at any point following the end of a marriage. Steps taken might include making an attempt to seek a mutually agreeable resolution if the issues don't involve allegations of unsafe situations or serious custody violations or turning to the appropriate court or state agency if necessary.

Source: U.S. News & World Report, "Dealing With Divorce During the Holidays," November 29, 2018

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