Thursday, November 18, 2010

Divorce, Holidays and the Kids

The holiday season is upon us and many people are beginning the fight regarding who gets the kids, for how long and when. In Florida, if you have a court ordered holiday schedule, the holiday schedule will trump your regular schedule. Additionally, "holiday" contact is usually defined as the day the children are released from school until the day they return to school at the conclusion of the break from school. If you don't have an agreement at this time, here are some tips to help you through the holiday season with as little stress and fighting as possible:

1. Be Willing to Compromise. Its rare that you will get both Thanksgiving and Christmas. If you want Thanksgiving this year, understand that you are probably going to have to give up Christmas Day this year.
2. Make Plans for Yourself. If you don't have Thanksgiving this year, you will have it next year. That's the way that it works and is what is fair to the other parent. There is no time like the present to figure out what you are going to do on the holiday when you don't have the kids. Don't give your kids a guilt trip, they should be able to spend time with their father/mother without feeling guilty.
3. More than one celebration is not a bad thing. Kids never complain about having two (2) Christmases so if you don't get to see your children on Christmas this year, you can celebrate with them on the day/days that you do have them.
4. Don't agree in writing to share holidays. You never know what is going to happen in the future and your new wife/husband may not understand why they have to have your ex-wife/ex-husband at their Thanksgiving table. If you decide to share a holiday that's great, but if you put it in writing, you are stuck with that indefinitely.
5. Don't make assumptions. If you are travelling for a holiday and there is no agreement as to who gets the holiday this year, make sure you speak with your children's mother/father before booking flights or hotel rooms. Never assume that the holiday is yours. You will have much better success at getting a particular holiday if you speak with the other parent first and ask them whether you can have the kids rather than just making plans without consulting the other parent.
6. Plan ahead. The sooner you can come to an agreement about the holiday schedule, the smoother the season will go. With the crowding of courts, if you wait until the last minute there will be little chance that you will be able to get to see a judge before the holiday if an agreement can't be reached.
7. Don't take the holiday schedule too seriously. If you agree not to have a holiday this year, all that means is that you get that particular holiday next year. Fighting over holidays does not make sense and ultimately will have a negative effect on your children.
8. Create new traditions with your children to make the holiday season special. Life is not going to look the same once you and your spouse decide to split, but that doesn't mean you can't create new and meaningful traditions.
9. Focus on the Positive. Divorce is difficult on everyone and can be even more difficult if you are going through one during the holiday season. Focusing on the positive can help you get through the season.
10. Be Flexible- If your ex-spouse has a holiday this year, wants to travel and stay a day later which means that will cut into your time, if you don't have other plans, be okay with this, because you never know when you are going to need the same flexibility.