During the holiday seasons many spouses who have split up begin the “fight” regarding who gets the kids, for how long and when. In California, if you have a court ordered holiday schedule, the holiday schedule will supersede your regular schedule. Most courts define kids “holidays” as the day the children are released from school until the day they return to school at the conclusion of the break from school.

If you don’t have a visitation agreement that specifies the holiday schedule (and some family law attorneys might suggest that you don’t make a written agreement), here are some tips to help you through the holiday season with as little stress and fighting as possible:

1 – Be Willing to Compromise.

Its rare that you will get both Thanksgiving and Christmas.

2 – Make Plans for Yourself.

If you don’t have Thanksgiving this year, you will have it next year. Make Thanksgiving plans and enjoy it yourself – whatever you do, don’t give your kids a guilt trip, they should be able to spend time with their other parent without having to feel guilty.

3 – More than one holiday celebration is not a bad thing.

What kid is going to complain about having two (2) Christmases?

4 – Don’t agree in writing to share the holidays.

Why? You never know what is going to happen in the future. What happens if your circumstances change dramatically and your new wife/husband won’t understand why they have to have your ex-wife/ex-husband at their Thanksgiving dinner. When you put the holiday schedule in writing, you are stuck with that indefinitely.

5 – Don’t make holiday assumptions.

If you are planning on traveling for a holiday and there is no agreement as to who gets the kid (s) on that holiday this year, make sure you speak with your the other parent before booking flights or hotel rooms. Never assume that the holiday is yours. Obviously, you will have better success at getting a particular holiday if you speak with the other parent first and ask them whether you can have the kids.

6 – Plan ahead for holidays.

The sooner you can come to an agreement about the current year’s holiday schedule, the smoother the holidays will go.

7 – Create new holiday traditions.

Creating new traditions with your children to make the holiday season special is a great idea. Life is not going to be the same once you and your spouse split, but that doesn’t mean you can’t create new and meaningful traditions.