Divorce and the holidays may seem like the last thing that go together. But a comfortable holiday season isn’t out of reach for divorced families. The key to making holidays count is good planning and fair negotiation.

At Boileau Conflict Solutions we help to draft complex parenting plans. We can also provide long-term co-parenting conflict management to help families emerge from conflict into the light of cooperation. Holidays should be downtime for kids and parents, so different parenting styles may need to be accommodated for. For example, some parents may want to be aware of what their children are doing and check in regularly, other parents may be more comfortable letting the other parent take over. Mediation helps parties to have these conversations in advance so that holidays can be restful. Mediation can help identify potential problems that might not arise in normal conversation. Every family will have their own checklist, but the following are some potential issues to consider discussing in mediation:

– It’s best to start with a good, flexible parenting plan, especially if you are parenting from different locations or frequently traveling abroad.
– If your child is traveling abroad with their co-parent, prepare travel documents and custody papers. The rules for what notifications to show when you leave the country with your child differ depending on the custody arrangement. Visit https://www.dhs.gov/how-do-i/travel-overseas for more info.
– Have a conversation about in-laws, expectations and making divorce your own. In-laws can say insensitive things at the thanksgiving dinner table that may hurt children. Co-parents may need to agree to make their divorce their own and set boundaries about bad-mouthing another co-parent or revealing too much in front of a child. Mediation can help to establish boundaries for the sake of children.
– Make sure that you and your co-parent, their new partners or family are working together on any medical issues your child may have. Pack accordingly and correspond if needs be.
– If your co-parent wishes, let them see a schedule of activities with your child. Let them Okay any activities that may be risky and agree to allow them to check in. If your co-parent is stressed and hyper-vigilant mediation can help to structure check-in time to reduce stress on the child by preparing holiday schedules.
– If you are holidaying together, plan and stick to plans around sleeping arrangements, new partners or step-families. Be honest about what you can handle around your ex-spouse and maintain healthy boundaries.
– Have a conversation about cultural traditions during the holidays and negotiate with your ex about what traditions to celebrate with your child. Don’t be insensitive if your cultural or religious traditions are completely different from your spouse’s. Mediation can help you to negotiate a fair compromise to create new traditions at the holidays that will make children feel grounded in both parents’ cultures and not caught between.
– Mediation can help you make realistic plans about finances and be sensitive and smart about any financial disparity between you and your partner. One partner may be able to afford to be splashy about holidays while the other may not. Pool or split the cost of holidays depending on what is appropriate. Consider starting an R&R fund for kids’ activities and holidays.

At Boileau Conflict Solutions we design parenting plans for complex lives and mediate ongoing conflict. We often work with parents who are negotiating relocation and custody issues in divorce. We are a group of caring and well-educated mediators who employ strategies from psychoanalysis, law and math to reach a solution that best reflects the interests of all parties. From high level mediation involving complex issues of law and finance, to sensitive negotiations involving children, our approach is tailored to the demands of the situation. We apply psychological principles such as attachment theory, and strive to ensure that children are viewed as important stakeholders in any negotiation. Please visit us at our offices in Campbell, CA, Irvine, CA and Boulder, CO, or get in touch via skype or zoom for a free, confidential consultation. We are available 7 days a week and at urgent notice in crisis situations.

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