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Divorced parents can still get more family time with kids

The holidays can be a tough time for divorced parents, especially those whose children are scheduled to spend them with their other parent. Loneliness can settle in and suck out all the joy we're supposed to feel at this time of year.

But there are ways for you to get more time with your children, regardless of your child custody or visitation agreement. Consider the following tips if you're feeling down without the kids around:

1. Ask your ex-spouse for more time: Before you assume the answer will be "no," consider that it never hurts to ask, as long as you're polite, respectful and able to make the case that it may be good for the children to have some extra time with you. Offer to reciprocate in the future, and you might be surprised at your ex's willingness to cooperate.

2. Offer to baby-sit: Remember that your ex might be just as busy as you are with Christmas shopping or making other preparations. He or she might welcome a break to do those adult chores while saving money on the cost of a baby sitter.

3. Suggest a special event for the children: You might be able to get some extra time in beyond regular visitation by suggesting an event the kids would enjoy around this time of year, such as a holiday concert, ice skating party or an afternoon of cookie baking with friends. If the event can't be done at any other time, your argument might be more persuasive.

4. Offer to pick up the kids. Your ex-spouse might welcome an offer to pick up the kids from school or practice, even if it's not normally your job. You could also ask to take them out for a little while afterwards.

5. Host a sleep-over: Perhaps your ex hoped to be out late at a New Year's Eve party. Sweeten the deal by offering to take the children for the night so he or she can celebrate responsibly and not worry about driving home to pay a baby sitter. If your children can invite friends over, everyone has more fun.

6. Use Skype or a webcam to communicate: This technology can add some fun to phone conversations and make you feel a little closer to your children when you can't spend more time together in person. Just remember to be respectful of dinner and bedtimes when you feel like calling.

While these tips may not work for ex-spouses who don't have an amicable relationship, they can take some of the loneliness out of the holidays if you and your ex do normally cooperate. You also have the option of filing a modification of child custody or visitation, if you feel you aren't getting enough family time.

Source: Huffington Post, "6 Ways Divorced Parents Can Get More Time With Their Children During the Holidays," Bari Zell Weinberger, Dec. 21, 2011

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