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How can I eliminate stress from holiday custody exchanges?

Divorced parents who are not in a good place with their children's other parents typically experience the most stress during custody exchanges over the holidays. While there is no guarantee that there will be no glitches to mar this year's winter holidays, there are ways to reduce the likelihood.

Parents can eliminate a lot of the negativity surrounding holiday custody arrangements by having the details ironed out ahead of time in their agreements. Ideally, these matters will be detailed and determined months ahead. But because reality often is not ideal, difficulties may still crop up.

It's a given that each parent wants their children to share Hanukkah or Christmas with him or her. Some parents find it easier to split the major holidays, with each parent having the kids for alternating years. Others may find it works better to swap out each year, with mom getting them for the first four nights of Hanukkah, and dad the last four, or having them spend Christmas Eve with dad and Christmas day with mom.

Those holiday custody swaps work best with parents who live in close proximity to one another, however. Those with some distance between them or those traveling out of the New York City area to share holidays with extended families may decide to share Thanksgiving with the kids and have them visit their other parent on Christmas or Hanukkah. Then switch and repeat in alternating years.

There is no one way that is better than all others. Much depends on the way each parent celebrates the holidays. For instance, if dad is planning a big skiing trip with extended family members, perhaps the kids could join him for the secular portion of the holidays, i.e., New Year's, if mom insists on taking the kids to religious holiday services.

As always, working closely with your family law attorney can help ensure that the kids' best interests are well-reflected in the custody arrangements.

Source: Our Family Wizard, "Reduce Stress During the Holidays with Holiday Custody Arrangements and Visitation Schedules," accessed Nov. 17, 2017

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