The holiday season can cause much unnecessary conflict between separated and divorced spouses or split families. Navigating the holidays can be a very emotional time, whether it is your first or your fifteenth Christmas, sharing your time with your children.

A good divorce settlement agreement or parenting plan should have clear and specific guidelines for the sharing of the holiday season.

Holiday seasons often include travel plans. If these are going to interfere with the dates that the other parent should spend with your children, make sure that they are aware of these dates and that you have their agreement in advance.

If you are travelling internationally, on top of valid passports you will need to ensure that you have sufficient written legal consent from the other parent who is not coming on holiday with you and the children. This needs to be attended to in advance and must comply with the requirements of South Africa and the country that you are entering.

Here are some tips on ensuring that your holiday season runs as smoothly as possible:

  1. Try to make your plans and reach an agreement as soon as possible – last minute plans often come up against resistance.
  2. Take into account your existing arrangement and your previous holiday season – who had the children for which periods last year.
  3. Stick to the plans that you have made – the other parent has made plans around this arrangement already.
  4. Check your emotions – your reactions will be dictated by heightened emotions over any special time like the holiday season.
  5. Remember that the interests of the children are paramount – it is about what is best for the children and the parents will take a back seat.
  6. Try not to let extended family and friends interfere as they are not part of the legal agreement that you have in place.
  7. Do not always expect one parent to compromise – it needs to be a two-way street.
  8. Keep lines of communication open particularly for emergency situations.
  9. Be considerate of your children and the other parent.

If you require any assistance in navigating an agreement, a divorce or a parenting plan please contact our offices.

Written by Liza Bagley contact number 031 003 0630 and email address Liza@schwenninc.co.za