Divorce Attorney Erin Levine Shares Advice for Navigating the Holiday Season With an Ex-Partner

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The holidays are a time where family and friends get together and celebrate, but with that, often comes added stress. To get through any difficulties co-parenting during this time of year, divorce attorney Erin Levine is sharing her top tips with ET.

Levine has helped many former couples in her 16 years of practicing law and through founding Hello Divorce, a company that offers self-service and guided processes that help with everything from making divorce forms easier, to navigating the rules regarding submission of those forms to the court, to problem solving, conflict resolution and in some cases, access to legal advice. 

"Holidays are challenging in general. We are managing our own expectations along with that of our extended family. Add in emotional triggers stemming from childhood and a break in routine, it’s completely normal to feel anxious. We all had that picture in our minds of what holidays were supposed to look like, and sometimes, the hardest part is breaking free from that expectation," she shares.

Once you've set realistic goals, Levine suggests honing in on what is best for your kids. 

"Your kids are going to want to see both of their parents for the holidays. Make sure they get that time and that they know you want them to enjoy the time they spend with your ex. You are still a family, it’s just reorganized now in a way that makes the most sense for all of you," she notes.

Next, the California-based attorney says it's important to recognize that this isn't a time to compete with your ex, but rather, cooperate. 

"Maximize the time you have without your kids and try not to spend too much headspace obsessing over what they might be doing at the other house or whether or not they are interacting with your ex’s new significant other," she states. 

"Maybe you want to secretly one up your ex, or you’re considering purchasing the most extravagant gifts possible to compensate for guilt you are subconsciously still struggling with. Check yourself and remember it’s meant to be a fun holiday not an aggressive competition. ... Your kids want to experience the two of you as unified, not constantly at odds," she adds.

Erin Levine
Kelly Maughan for Hello Divorce

After checking yourself, Levine recommends checking those close to you.

"This is your opportunity to tell your friends and family members that regardless of what went on in the past, your new priority is to co-parent as peacefully as possible, so leave the bad mouthing at home or out of the presence of your children," she shares. 

"Your kids are one-half your ex, so anytime someone says something negative about their other parent, you risk your kids internalizing those comments and thinking something is wrong with them," Levine continues.

To make sure everything goes as smoothly as possible, Levine recommends setting plans and keeping your commitments. 

"The holidays are inherently stressful and crazy, don't add to the chaos by not having a plan. Communicate clearly with your ex, and plan out all the little details including pickup location and drop-off time," she says. "Consider using a co-parenting app so everything is in one place and therefore harder to have misunderstandings during a very busy time." 

Lastly, the attorney advises that you be the bigger person when any challenges arise. 

"Even if it’s your day with the kids, let them share it with their other parent if they so choose. If your child wants to FaceTime with the other parent, let them! Kids shouldn’t have to feel like they have to compartmentalize their emotions, and just because they have two households doesn’t mean they have two lives. ... Even in the best of times, holidays are peppered with emotional landmines. For the sake of your kids, and your own well-being, sidestep the conflict and take the high road."

Hello Divorce is available in California, Texas, Colorado and Utah and prices range from $99-$2,000 per person. 


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