Navigating Divorce During the Holidays: A Practical Guide

Last updated on January 10, 2024

When you think of the holiday season you probably associate it with family, traditions, and joy, but what once was comfortable and familiar may now feel stressful because of a change in your family dynamics caused by divorce. As the lights go up and the temperature drops, individuals going through a divorce may find themselves facing tough decisions and heightened emotions. In this guide, we’ll discuss valuable tips to help you handle divorce with confidence so you can enjoy the most wonderful time of the year as much as possible.

Managing Emotions During The Holidays

From the smell of holiday treats baking to your favorite seasonal tunes playing in the background – this time of year paints a scene that often clashes with the emotional disruption of divorce. Before you attempt strategies to minimize your stress and find happiness during the holidays, it’s important to acknowledge the impact that your divorce has on you. Generally those who get divorced suffer mentally and emotionally, and understandably so, as the process entails making important decisions that will affect the rest of your life. It’s important to not only give yourself grace, but also recognize that healing is a process that will take time. Unlike the presents you’ve been wrapping, you can’t put a bow on the sensitive journey of divorce! That’s why we recommend that in addition to enlisting help from a seasoned divorce attorney, you should also seek support from friends, family, or even a licensed therapist.

Setting Realistic Expectations

Setting realistic expectations during the holidays requires a comprehensive strategy. First, you need to reflect on the things that will undoubtedly change when it comes to your yearly traditions. For example, the holiday you celebrate may look different than usual, especially if you and your former spouse share children together. Acknowledging the need for adaptation is an excellent way to align your expectations with reality.

It’s important to be honest with friends and family about any reservations you have with the changing customs so they too can better understand your feelings during a delicate transition.

Finally, you should embrace the idea that though this year might not be the same as previous ones, there is endless opportunity for new experiences. Setting realistic expectations allows you to appreciate your old traditions, while also looking forward to establishing new ones that might even become your best ones!

Tips For Co-Parenting During The Holidays

If you and your spouse share children together, matters can become especially contentious when it comes to working out holiday schedules. It’s natural for both of you to want to spend as much time with your children as possible, but effective co-parenting during the holidays requires communication, collaboration, and flexibility. Below are a few tips that can help make that possible:

  • Make A Schedule – There are several apps that offer schedule planning services for co-parents, including Our Family Wizard, Onward, Custody X Change, Cozi, and more. 
  • Coordinate Gift Giving – If gift giving is a part of your holiday plans, coordinating with your co-parent to prevent repeat gifts is a simple way to co-parent effectively. You may even be able to split the cost of gifts if you’re planning to celebrate together. 
  • Be Flexible – Plans can change in the blink of an eye. If your co-parent has an unexpected schedule change and needs to adjust the holiday schedule you’ve created, depending on any legal agreements you have in your child custody arrangement, it can’t hurt to be flexible when you can. You never know when you’ll need that same favor in return. 
  • Be Mindful – Regardless of your feelings towards your co-parent, you should always be mindful of how you interact with and speak about them. Your children are watching. Although divorce is a difficult transition for you and your co-parent, it is likely much harder for your kids. It’s worth it to do what you can to lessen the impact of your divorce on their lives. 
  • Encourage Open Communication With Your Children – If your children are old enough to express an opinion regarding your holiday plans, it is worth taking into consideration in order to make the holidays enjoyable for everyone. 

Handling Challenging Situations

While it’d be nice for everyone to get along and no conflict to arise throughout the holidays, that isn’t always possible. Because divorce is such a sensitive process, there are a myriad of emotions at play from all involved parties. If you find yourself facing challenges like disagreements over custody arrangements, disputes about holiday expenses, or inability to agree on a schedule, it can add stress to an already emotionally charged situation.

A divorce attorney can be an excellent advocate in situations like these, offering you seasoned guidance or conflict resolution strategies like negotiation or mediation.

Your biggest motivation, however, should be your children’s well-being. If there is one thing you and your co-parent can agree on, it’s ensuring a happy and memorable holiday experience for your kids. By doing that, you can show them that despite your separation, you can still enjoy moments of togetherness as a family.

Self-Care Practices For Divorcees During The Holidays

It’s likely that you’re already overwhelmed by the complexities of divorce, such as how your assets and debts will be divided, who’ll keep the house, and how often your kids will stay with you, making it tough to prioritize your well-being as you approach the holiday season. Don’t forget to do things for yourself during this time – maybe that looks like taking a holiday trip that your spouse never wanted to, treating yourself to your favorite restaurant, taking up a new hobby, connecting with friends, or finding peace in being alone. By caring for yourself, you can navigate the holidays and your new-found freedom with assurance.

Tis The Season To Reclaim Your Peace

As discussed in this practical guide, managing emotions, setting realistic expectations, co-parenting effectively, handling challenging situations, and prioritizing self-care are all essential components of handling the divorce process in the midst of the holidays. If you and your spouse have decided to divorce or you’re beginning to consider your options, the divorce attorneys at New York Family Law Group can simplify the steps of divorce, and offer you legal and emotional support that allows you to soak up the joys of the holiday season while we handle the rest. Contact us now to book a discovery call.



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