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Divorce Survival Tips-Getting through the holidays

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Divorce Survival Tips-Getting through the holidays

Getting through the holidays—Divorce survival Tips


Are you or someone you know considering separation? Have you or someone you know recently separated?  Then this helpful guide is for you.


A question the team at My Legal Crunch often hears, is:

My partner and I have just separated, what can we do to reduce stress and conflict during the holidays?


The holidays are both an exciting and stressful time for many, where we often find ourselves juggling family traditions and accommodating extended families.  Separating or contemplating separation during the holidays is never easy, so we’ve put together this straightforward guide to help you and your family through this challenging time.

  1. Create a holiday plan to simplify and avoid confusion
    • Having a plan over the holidays can go a long way to navigate some of the holiday stress.  If you can agree, put your plans in writing, as to how the children will spend their time over the holidays with each parent to avoid confusion and uncertainty.
    • Your agreement should include specific pick-up and drop-off times and exchange locations.  This agreement does not have to be anything formal, rather it could be an agreement by email or text message, as long as you both of you have access to the agreement to refer to over the holidays.
    • It is important to remember how your children might be feeling during this period, they may be feeling anxious or confused having to celebrate the holidays without both parents.
    • Depending on your relationship with the child, their development and age, it may be beneficial to clearly explain the holiday schedule in age appropriate language.
    • Encouraging effective communication with your children will assist you in understanding their needs, concerns and potential worries.


  2. Keeping with traditions
    • Change is often the most confronting feeling newly separated partners feel, and although some change is inevitable, you can take comfort in knowing that you can still keep and maintain some of those wonderful holiday and family traditions.
    • Connecting with your children during the holidays will allow you to share in the creation of some new memories together, whilst still honouring any previous holiday traditions.
    • This is also a good time to evaluate past traditions and to consider if they are still healthy for you and your family.


  3. Making new traditions
    • Sometimes due to changes in circumstances, you may not be able to celebrate the holidays with the children on a designated day, and in cases like this, it is important to remember the value of making new arrangements to spend quality time together.
    • New traditions can be great fun.
    • Some of our past clients have come up with innovative ways to share in the holiday and family spirit.  Some ideas include, baking festive treats with the children, indulging in some special activities from family picnics, the zoo, to a little outing to your local ice cream parlour. The value of quality time invested together is paramount to developing and maintaining strong family connections.
  4. Focus on the good things and leave your ex-partner off the naughty list
    • Holiday time with the family is precious time.  This is an excellent time for you to lead by example for your children.
    • Your children will be looking to you for leadership and support.  It may be tough, but telling the children how awful the other parent is, or focusing on the negative things will do little to improve your situation or help the children adjust to the change.
    • Instead, try to view the situation from the children’s perspective and be as supportive as you can.  If you hear other family members making disparaging comments about your ex-partner, make sure you speak with them privately and let them know their comments are not appropriate in the presence of the children.
  5. Practice effective co-parenting
    • The holidays present a fantastic opportunity to reengage in respectful communication with your ex-partner, despite your differences for the sake of the children.
    • If you plan on buying the children gifts, if possible, try to consult with your ex-partner as to the number of gifts and price range of those gifts to avoid any duplication or competitive gift giving.  By comparative gift giving, we mean you want to avoid giving the children gifts as a tool to outdo the other parent.  This sharp practice only spoils the children, creates resentment and unrealistic expectations.
    • Use effective communication to create what is hopefully a long and prosperous co-parenting relationship, between you and your ex-partner after separation. 
  6. Know your Options
    • Parenting while separated presents a range of challenges and opportunities but what is important is that you remember to put your children’s needs first.
    • For more details on Family Law Frequently Asked Questions, please see our FAQ Section
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