With the holidays officially upon us, hundreds of thousands of children across the U.S. are now counting down the final hours to when they get to tear open their presents and, at long last, enjoy the gifts that their parents bought for them. In fact, some children will actually go through this much-anticipated ritual twice because of their parent’s divorce.

While you would naturally be inclined to think that this holiday gift giving for kids would be one of the last scenarios to create any sort of strife between divorced parents, this is actually far from the case.

According to experts, divorced couples routinely find themselves at odds thanks to either gifting competition and/or poor gift choices.

In the former, a parent goes ahead and makes a substantial purchase for the children — think video game system, bike or even a puppy — without consulting with the other parent who was perhaps planning on a more modest holiday celebration thanks to limited finances.

In the latter, a parent purchases gifts without thinking how they might become onerous or perhaps even obnoxious to the other parents. For example, a non-custodial parent could purchase their child a drum set, something that the parent with primary custody may not necessarily want in their home thanks to the noise it creates.

“Because I have primary custody, all of the presents end up at my house, and there are some really heinous things that I wish could stay [at my ex’s home],” said one father of the electric piano his former wife purchased for their three-year-old. “They’re loud or annoying, but we try.”

According to experts, all of this trouble can be avoided through simple communication and a minimal amount of planning. Specifically, if spouses are able to talk at the outset of the holidays to establish their respective budgets and exchange gift ideas, it can all but eliminate poor gift choices and gifting competition.

“The recession has made it difficult for some. Suddenly a task shared by two now falls on each parent,” said one family law attorney. “Work together so one parent doesn’t ‘outgift’ the other.”

If you would like to learn more about divorce, child custody or child support here in New York, consider speaking with an experienced legal professional who can answer your questions, explain your rights and fight on your behalf.

Source: The Myrtle Beach Sun News, “Holiday gifting can be vexing for kids of divorce,” Leanne Italie, Dec. 23, 2013