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Holiday Gift Giving for Divorced Parents


The holidays can be a hectic and difficult time for anyone, but for recently divorced parents and those still working through the process, there are also some unique logistics involved. That’s true not only when it comes to creating workable time-sharing plans for the holidays, putting differences aside in order to prioritize children, and making the most of new arrangements, but also when it’s time to plan and purchase gifts.

Divorce, like any other aspect of family law, is both a legal process and a deeply personal journey, and it can create added stressors during the holiday season. For divorced and divorcing couples who share minor children, however, it’s important to remember that the holidays are often a time of tremendous importance for kids – not just in the toys and presents they receive, but in the memories they create.

Presents, Parenting & Divorce

Though a child’s experience of the holiday season certainly has meaning far beyond material possessions, they’d be a lot different for kids if there weren’t toys and presents. For parents, the joy of giving children their gifts can be a gift unto its own, but it can also be a challenging task rife with potential pitfalls and unfamiliar issues following a recent divorce or during a pending case.

To help you better navigate the process of gift-giving, our legal team at The Harris Law Firm has put together a few important things to consider, and a few helpful tips:

  • Who’s the giver of gifts? – One important question divorcing or newly divorced parents should ask themselves is who should be giving the gifts. Santa may lend a helping hand in some cases, but parents should still consider where the presents are coming from. For example, some parents may choose to continue giving gifts together from “mom and dad” even after divorce, which can show a commitment to co-parenting and provide help with more expensive presents, though it may come with added challenges. Others parents may choose to give gifts separately, or even as both co-parents and single parents.
  • Coordinate and communicate – While it may seem like a kid’s dream to get two holidays and two sets of presents, it can actually be quite stressful. That’s very much the case when parents don’t coordinate and communicate about presents. Consulting with your former or soon-to-be spouse about what presents to get is as equally important for parents giving gifts together, separately, or both, and can help avoid sticky situations like both parents getting the same thing or a competition with one another. It can also help with joint purchases for bigger items, when determining the best time for actually giving those gifts, or when parents don’t see eye-to-eye about the type of gift the other wants to get.
  • Non-competition – The holidays can quickly descend into battles over which parent can give the better gift. If you and your ex-spouse are able to communicate effectively, consider adopting a type of parental present “non-compete” agreement so it’s clear neither party will try to one-up the other. That can include setting a budget, or simply keeping each other apprised of what each intends to buy as a present. Remember, kids are more perceptive to these types of things than most parents would believe.
  • Don’t undermine the other parent – Whether married or divorced, parents may clash about what to get their kids and whether it is appropriate. If communication isn’t helping, consider leaving the situation as a matter of differences and move on to other suggestions for the sake of keeping negativity out of the holidays. That’s a much better option than going ahead and buying something you know the other parent did not agree with and which may compromise healthy co-parenting and holiday cheer. In these cases, it is ultimately the kids who pay the price.
  • Cut the strings – In addition to considering who will be giving gifts, how, and what they’ll be, some presents may require divorcees to think about where a gift will live. That’s important when it comes to certain types of gifts one parent’s home isn’t able to accommodate, such as a pet or large object. It’s also true when it comes to the importance of giving gifts with no strings attached, such as preventing a child from taking it to the other parent’s house.
  • Focus on the kids – The most important thing to remember is that children should come first. Just as family courts prioritize the best interests of minor children in matters of child custody and time-sharing, parents should also keep in mind the need to focus on the kids, and not let presents become the issue that creates tension, undermines a co-parenting relationship, or causes kids to miss out on a memorable time in their lives. Whether you choose to let the little things slide, pitch in more money for a joint purchase, or fill your former spouse in on a present that will likely visit or live in their house, taking the holiday high ground in favor of your kids is one of the greatest gifts you can give.

Call The Harris Law Firm to Discuss Your Family Law Needs

The Harris Law Firm wishes everyone a happy holiday season! Whether you’re considering your options for divorce or need assistance with another family law issue, including those arising from the holidays, our attorneys are available to answer any questions and concerns you may have. As Colorado’s largest family law firm, we’re committed to guiding clients through every step of their legal journeys, and helping them reach the best possible resolutions.

To speak with a Denver divorce or family law attorney, please call (303) 622-5502 or contact us online. We offer private consultation during which you can discuss your unique case and how we can help.

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