Photo of Karen Lavin

The holidays are in full swing. Illinoisans recently celebrated Thanksgiving with Christmas coming fast. But while many Illinoisan love the holidays, it may be a difficult time for Illinoisans who do not get to share the holidays with their children due to child custody and visitation arrangements.

Fortunately for Illinoisans in this category who split custody during the holidays, using the following tips can make the holiday season a happy time.

The first tip is to get creative. Just because a parent does not have custody over a particular holiday does not mean they cannot celebrate it with their child. Rather they can celebrate the holiday in advance. For example, Christmas is on a Wednesday this year. If the parent has the kids the weekend before, but not on Christmas, the parent could hold an early Christmas filled with fun, food and gifts.

The second tip is to plan for the child-less holiday. Make plans with family or friends, get a good book or rent a movie. Plan something fun to do without the kids.

And, finally, keep in mind that the holiday is about the kids as much, or more, than the parents. Sometimes, splitting holidays can be awkward for the kids. To make it less awkward, prepare the kids. Sit the kids down and talk to them about the holiday arrangement. Encourage the kids to enjoy their time with the other parent and reassure them that you will be having fun too. Make it easy for the kids to enjoy themselves without feeling guilty.

Nonetheless, while creativity and preparation can go a long way, in some cases, they are not enough. Parents who have a custody and visitation order in place may have a change in life circumstances that necessitates modifying the child custody order either temporarily or permanently. When that happens, Illinoisans may benefit from discussing their case with a family law attorney.

Source: Huffington Post, “Coping With Divorce at Thanksgiving,” Jackie Pilossoph, Nov. 26, 2013