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In a previous article, we've addressed how important it is for divorced parents to be on the same page when it comes to things like gift giving and Santa Claus.

However, nothing is going to create a more lasting -- and wretched -- memory of the holidays for your kids than the image of you and ex fighting about sharing custody on the big day.

This is not something you want to let go until the last minute. Here are the best ways to avoid power plays, drama and fireworks:

1. Look at your custody papers. It may spell out exactly who gets the kids for Christmas based on who had them for Thanksgiving or Halloween. If you can live with it and so can your ex, then you're good to go. Whoever doesn't actually have custody on Christmas (or whatever holiday you celebrate) can hold his or her celebration either a few days early or later.

2. Do you hate what the custody papers say and barely remember agreeing to it? Does your ex hate it as much as you do? If neither of you relishes the idea of trading the kids back and forth every other year, see if you can work out an agreement that will let you share the kids each year.

Here are some common agreements that parents use:

  • One parent gets custody Christmas Eve and drops the kids off at the other's house at bedtime so that the other parent has them for Christmas Day.
  • You can split Christmas Day right down the middle -- the spouse with official custody can start the morning with the kids and let the other spouse pick them up after lunch.
  • All the grownups -- including extended family -- put their hostilities in a box for a day or two and do all the normal family they used always do when they were married. This is great if there's a lot of extended family members involved and the kids are afraid of losing those ties.

Ultimately, if you and the ex can't agree and you really hate the order you have, you can seek an attorney's help to ask for a custody modification. However, start early -- there are a lot of people with similar issues -- and remember the judge will decide on what's best for your children, not you or your ex.

Source: Our Family Wizard, "Holidays, Parenting Time Trades, and Half-Days, Oh My!," accessed Oct. 26, 2017

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