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Are your children clear on holiday visitation arrangements?

As many divorced parents will say, communication, clear expectations and planning are the keys to a happy holiday season. Unfortunately, though, giving the kids a warm and positive experience is sometimes more easily said than done. Parental conflicts can get in the way, especially if the child custody arrangement is a bit ambiguous, or if the parents aren't yet accustomed to the visitation schedule.

With these issues in mind, let's consider some things New York parents can do to help ensure the best possible experience for themselves and their children this holiday season.

First of all, if you have a child custody agreement, it may not be a bad idea to review it. Sometimes a parent moves right along through December, planning a big meal and a festive atmosphere, only to realize at the last minute that the other parent is due to pick up the kids for the weekend. This kind of situation has been known to result in a parental dispute, and that is the last thing parents want their kids to remember about the holidays.

In terms of visitation, it's also a good idea to make expectations clear for the kids. Giving them a solid sense of what to expect will likely reduce any uncertainties they may have and allow them to better enjoy family traditions.

And parents may not want to be too rigid about when certain family events should occur. If it's the other parent's day with the children, then celebrating a holiday on a different day isn't likely to upset the kids. They just want their parents' love and support, so bumping a particular get-together up or back a day might be the best option.

In any case, communication is important. Even when emailing an ex-spouse is little more than a painful typing of keys, parents can be heartened by the knowledge that their children will have the love and support of both parents during the holiday season.

Source: The Mercury, "Child custody and the holidays: Do's and Don'ts," Andrew D. Taylor, Nov. 27, 2013

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