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Divorced parents: It’s OK to downsize your holiday expectations in 2020

It has certainly been an exceptional year — and not in a good way. For many families, 2020 brought job furloughs and even permanent layoffs. That can make it difficult to afford the upcoming winter holidays as parents normally would.

When divorced moms and dads are attempting to co-parent during the holidays, a sudden change in the available resources of either parent can make the process more challenging. Below are some tips for dealing with holiday expenses this year.

Communicate with one another

Hopefully, you and your co-parent share a civil enough post-divorce relationship that you both can share your concerns with one another. If there is a great disparity in income, e.g., one parent has been furloughed while the other continues to work, you may need to reach an acceptable compromise on gift-giving for the kids.

Agree to give joint gifts

In the past, you both may have been able to purchase and give big-ticket items as holiday gifts for your children. But if one of you no longer can afford to do so, agree to jointly give expensive gifts to the kids.

Alternatively, you and your co-parent can both agree to buy the kids a few inexpensive yet heartfelt gifts that reflect the reality of your circumstances. 

Be flexible with holiday plans

Some traditions this year may not be able to be carried out, especially those that involve extended family and travel plans. So, be willing to be flexible with your holiday plans even if that might mean deviating from your established parenting plan.

Seek legal intervention if your co-parent remains intransigent

Parenting plans are routinely modified to reflect changes in the parents’ and children’s circumstances. If you feel that your parenting plan needs to be modified, your family law attorney is a good source of guidance for your next move.