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Georgia co-parents: Work together to keep holidays stress-free

The pages of the 2018 calendar are turning quickly, and the holidays are just around the corner.

Some Georgia parents have child custody agreements that are set in stone. Other times, the orders are more ambiguous, or -- if the parents are on friendly terms -- flexible.

Conflict sometimes can rise between co-parents during the holiday season, and who wants that? The holidays are supposed to be about spending time together and making memories. That can be done if parents will communicate, review their custody paperwork and make sure that the holiday custody agreement is spelled out. And with Thanksgiving less than a month away, there is no better time to do it than now.

Here are the important things to remember:

1. Review your custody order now so there are no surprises. Perhaps you've forgotten that you had the kids last Thanksgiving and this year should be your co-parent's turn. Before you tell Grandma and Grandpa you'll be at their house with the children, check. And be sure to keep the kids out of any custody conflict.

2. Work with the other parent. If you communicate well with the other parent, reach an agreement to switch holidays if something very special arises that you'd like to share with the kids. If you don't have a specified custody order and can't come to an agreement, your attorney can communicate on your behalf, or it might be possible to reach an agreement through mediation.

3. Once the schedule has been set, keep the children in the loop. Explain the decisions to older children; they will appreciate knowing the schedule in advance. Tell the younger ones they will, for example, eat turkey at Mommy's house and will have dessert at your house. (Let them choose if they want apple, cherry or pumpkin pie, or maybe even cupcakes you decorate together!)

4. Don't fret if you can't spend the actual holiday together. There are fun ways to celebrate the holiday and start new traditions. There isn't anything that says you can't have "turkey Tuesday" a few days before Thanksgiving. And you still can sit by the Christmas tree and play Christmas music and exchange gifts the following weekend. Little kids, especially, will love having two holidays. Invite the cousins and grandparents, or have neighbors stop by. The children can look forward to this every year.

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