The holiday season isn’t far off — and that can put parents under a lot of stress when they have recently divorced or are going through the process.

If this is your first holiday season following your marital split, here are some of the most important things you can do to head off any problems:

  • Review your custody and visitation plan. This will tell you exactly who gets Thanksgiving with the kids, who gets Christmas and anything else that’s already been ordered. You may want to grab a calendar and see how your times with the kids match up with any important events you’d like to attend.
  • Talk early with (and update) your ex. Focus on the idea that the holidays are important to the kids, and that you don’t want unnecessary stress for them. Even if your custody schedule is set in stone, you still need to arrange pick-up times, drop-off times and discuss any out-of-town trips.
  • Put any agreements you make in writing. Even if you just follow up a verbal conversation with your ex with an email confirming the agreement, it’s important to have things in writing so that there’s no chance for extra conflict. You should talk about things like what gifts you are going to buy, special events and any changes to the visitation plan.
  • Practice kindness and flexibility. If your ex wants the kids on Thanksgiving evening so they can see her parents, plan your Thanksgiving for earlier in the day so she can have them — even if it is your day on the schedule. That way, you can ask for a similar trade-off that benefits you, later.

If you need to make anything other than minor changes to your parenting plan for the holiday season, it may be wise to get some experienced assistance. Your attorney can help with modifications.