You might have settled who will have your children during the Christmas holidays, but that doesn’t mean that all of your troubles are over when it comes to celebrating Christmas as a divorced parent. Even though you have split your children’s time evenly between your two residences over Christmas break, there is still the matter of presents. Here are a few stumbling blocks that many newly-divorced parents struggle with regarding child visitation and the holidays:

•    Where will the gifts be kept? Talk to your spouse and your child about what the location of new gifts will be. A father might want the dollhouse that he gave his daughter to stay in his home, but his daughter may want to take the house to her mother’s, where she spends more time. A child might want to take his new bike with him no matter who he is staying with. The trick here is to resolve issues of the new gifts’ home before it becomes an argument.
•    Dad got me a puppy! If you plan on purchasing your child something that will take time, commitment, or money from both parents, get the present approved by your ex before you purchase it. If you give your child swimming lessons, make sure you understand who will drive her to and from the lessons. If you give your child a puppy, make sure you know who will have responsibility over the pet’s care. If you give your child a guitar, make sure your spouse won’t mind listening to practicing.
•    Review your child’s wish list together or over email. It’s happened before: a child asks for a videogame system and get it from both parents – or neither parents. While it still may be difficult for you to communicate with your ex-spouse, it is important to put your heads together around the holidays to make sure that your child or children have a fun, happy holiday. It can also make certain that you avoid duplicate gifts or missing out on something important.
•    Set a spending limit. It’s normal to want to fight for your child’s favor after a divorce, but it important not to act on your emotions for the wellbeing of your children. No one wants to look like the penny-pinching parent who skimped on Christmas, and no one wants to spend more than they normally would just to compete with an ex for a child’s affections. The best way to avoid all of this? Agree on a spending limit and stick to it.
Molly B. Kenny
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Divorce and Child Custody Attorney Serving Bellevue and Seattle Washington