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3 ways to approach child custody over the holidays

Many people think of the holidays as a time to spend connecting with family, friends and other loved ones. However, as the department stores start to build their wintry window displays and holiday songs echo through the corridors of the local mall, some parents in Washington may be experiencing feelings other than excitement.

The holidays can be a difficult time for those who are going through a divorce or who already share custody of their children with an ex. If you are in this situation, you may feel anxious about having to work out a custody plan with your ex. Or if you already have a plan, you may simply feel sad that you won't get to spend a holiday with your children.

No matter what your exact situation, there are ways to approach this year's holiday season that may make things a little easier for both you and your children.

1. Negotiate for a plan in advance that fits your holiday schedule. This likely means having a calm conversation with your children's other parent about what makes the most sense for the holidays. Alternating years is a common solution.

For example, this year, your ex has your children at Thanksgiving and you have them at Christmas. Next year, you switch. If you live in the same area, splitting time could also be a feasible approach that allows you both to spend time with your children on important holidays. Either way, deciding now will help you avoid additional stress later on.

2. Remember that the date is a just a number. If your custody plan is set, and you don't get to spend a holiday with your child, consider celebrating it on another day. If your children will be with your ex on Thanksgiving, you could have your own turkey dinner with them the night before or after. Your extended family might even be willing to join in on an early or late celebration.

3. Put in writing. Child custody is an emotional topic. It is often easier to verbally agree to a custody plan than it is to actually follow through with it. To prevent any surprises this holiday season, it may be wise to make your custody plan formal. Your attorney can help with this.

With the holidays quickly approaching, it is important to start thinking about how you will handle child custody this year if you haven't already. Establishing a plan in advance can help ensure you and your ex are on the same page and your kids know what to expect. If you do run into trouble with your custody plan, it may be helpful to speak with an attorney. An attorney can help you create a plan and enforce it.

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