christmas after divorce

How To Prepare for Christmas After Your Divorce

The biggest holiday season of the year is approaching and for those who had just been divorced, the prospect of spending Christmas after your divorce can be daunting. Christmas is an event that is usually spent with family. The first Christmas after your divorce could be the toughest, since you could feel at a loss in the midst of the festivities. You should expect things to be different. In the past, you might have spent the holiday season from beginning to end with your kids, but now you will have to share the kids with your spouse, and it’s highly likely that you will spend the holidays separately.
Of course, you will still be able to create and share priceless memories with your children at Christmas after your divorce but it will never be like the previous years again. It’s not something to be bitter about though. You should also consider your ex-spouse, who would also want to create new Christmas memories with your children in his or her own way.


Christmas Visitation After a Divorce in Texas

If your final divorce decree was made in a Texas court, surely, one parent would have been awarded the right concerning the primary residence of the children. The children will live with that parent during the weekdays and the schools where they attend would need to be geographically close to that parent’s home. The usual arrangement goes like this: the first, third and fifth weekends is the designated time for the other parent. It would also include Thursday nights of each week. The parent with the visitation rights would also have the right to have the children over at his or her residence for a month during the summer vacation period. This could mean one whole month (4 weeks) or two two-week increments during the summer.


What about Your Christmas Visitation Schedule?

In most cases, the court will arrange that one spouse will have the children at Thanksgiving and the other will have the children for Christmas in one year. You can’t have the children over both for Christmas and Thanksgiving within one year. The next year, you will have the children at Christmas and your spouse will have them at Thanksgiving. If this does not work with you, you and your spouse can sign an agreement stating the setup you want before the divorce decree is finalized.
In very occasions, your final divorce decree can order you to have the children both at Christmas and Thanksgiving if due to work-related issues or other significant factors, you are not able to spend time with the children for two weeks during the summer vacation. This means you give up two weeks during the summer and have the children during the holidays instead. We would like to emphasize that this rarely happens. If you want to have this kind of arrangement, you need to make a legal agreement with your ex-spouse.


Where the Texas Family Code Stands

The guidelines mentioned above are the rules according to the Texas Family Code. It certainly can be tedious to follow at times, not to mention inconvenient and lacks flexibility. However, we can’t do much about it. The state of Texas, according to the Texas Family code believes in being fair and balanced in terms of the children’s best interests. The state Legislature believes that the arrangement mentioned above is the best way to divide up the holidays.
Remember though, that if you have an alternative arrangement with your ex-spouse, you need to push through with it during the divorce negotiations in order for it to show up in your final divorce decree.


Family Traditions and Other Factors

There are also many other factors that could affect how you celebrate Christmas after your divorce. Some of these include the family traditions that you already have prior to the divorce that you’d like to uphold after the divorce. These factors could also include family events during the Christmas season that do not coincide with the dates that the Texas Family Code would like to impose.
For instance, due to work, your family may not celebrate Christmas on the exact date. If this is the case, adjustments will have to be made to reach an arrangement that would work for both you and your ex-spouse. Ideally, you should reach the conclusions regarding these issues before the finalization of your final divorce decree so that you and your ex-spouse can prepare well and know what to expect during Thanksgiving and Christmas after your divorce.
If you were not able to reach an agreement regarding the holidays during your divorce negotiations, it is not too late to make such agreements now. You can always work on agreements with your spouse regarding how you spend Christmas after your divorce as long as you make these before the actual holidays.


Pointers in Making Holiday Agreements

If you want to modify the holiday schedule from the one stated in your divorce decree, it is ideal to do it legally. Make sure to have the agreement written and signed by both parties. It is not really a legal document but it is enough proof that you had an agreement regarding the holiday schedule with your kids.
Another important thing to remember when making such agreements is the fact that family comes first. You might want to spend more time with your children as much as possible but is it really the best for them? Be considerate of your children’s desires and your ex-spouse too. This way you can still have a merry Christmas after your divorce despite the terms at which you and your ex-spouse had separated. In the end, the most important thing you need to think about is how your actions and decisions will affect and benefit the children.

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Mr. Hutton is a Divorce and Custody Lawyer based out of Round Rock, TX. His background is with child psychology at Arizona State University where he received a B.S. in 2006, and he continued this by working with the Children’s Right’s Clinic at the University of Texas School of Law where he received his J.D. in 2009. Throughout his practice, he has been a strong proponent of utilizing modern technology to improve his practice and the representation of his clients. He currently is the technology chair of CAFA of Travis County and is committed to improving and modernizing the practice of law in Texas. If you have any questions you can contact him at

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