California is known for having some of the highest divorce rates in the nation. This means that many parents in the Golden State will have to deal with the reality of separated families during the holiday season. Even happily married couples admit that the holidays bring about a mixture of stress, excitement and anticipation that can cause strong emotions to flare up. For this reason, divorced parents should focus on looking out for the best interests of the children above everything else.

When the holidays come around, it does not matter if divorced parents have sole, shared or joint custody. What really matters is that they have an adequate parenting plan for Thanksgiving through New Years Day. If there is no parenting agreement to guide divorced couples during the holidays, the children are bound to suffer.

Setting aside personal feelings and avoiding confrontation are general recommendations for divorced couples that should be kept in mind during the holidays. For some individuals, sticking to these recommendations may require seeing a therapist or talking with friends, particularly if they experience feelings of anger when they think about the new partners of their former spouses. The same goes for those who plan on getting even by denying visitation rights during the holidays.

It’s generally better for divorced parents to avoid asking children questions about the new lifestyle of their ex-spouse. They should also avoid getting into a competition with a former spouse in terms of getting more expensive presents or taking more elaborate trips. Any major disagreements about parenting plans should be addressed with a family law firm after the holidays.