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.


Jazzie Casas said...

When parents decide that they must separate, their children are often left in the middle of the situation. Even in families where both parents have the best interests of the children at heart, figuring out where they will live and who will be responsible for the various parts of raising them is not always easy. Child custody laws in each state help the family courts determine which parent should have custody of the children, where the children should live, and how and when they will communicate with the other parent.

Bill Bishop Attorney said...

This is always a busy time for us family law attorneys.

Juanita Swindell said...

Well said and very introspective. While I agree with each and every one of your points, I think the 10th point about being flexible is what everything really comes down to. Divorced parents who share joint custody of the kids need to be flexible about the kids’ schedules at least for the sake of the kids. Unfortunately, this is something most people will overlook in their own desperate attempt at upstaging their ex-partner and being a hero in their kids’ eyes. But what about the kids? They are the ones who get torn between Dad and Mom during every holiday season. What good does it do them to see their parents fighting over who gets to spend the holidays with them? Ex-partners who are flexible enough to let their kids spend time with their other parent and then enjoy the time that they get to spend together, will have happier kids who will thank them later on in life. Family Law

Nancy Caplan, Esq. said...

I am a divorce mediator in Maryland. With one of my clients we worked out a schedule for Thanksgiving that works great -- they each have Thanksgiving every year. Whoever has the kids on Thanksgiving Day, the other parent has Thanksgiving on Friday. This way everyone is happy - - the kids are more than happy and it is a win-win for everyone. No one feels like they are missing out on a important family holiday. I would think this can work for many holidays.

Family Law said...

Marriage is an equal partnership and I believe that it should begin as one. families where both parents have the best interests of the children figuring out where they will live and who will be responsible for the parts of raising them is not always easy

Michael said...

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bastrop carpet cleaning said...

I'm not sure how it happened but my ex and I have been able to work together on stuff like this. I guess we put our differences aside and do what's best for our son.

Divorce Lawyers in Jacksonville, FL said...

It's November, time for the holidays... last year my children weren't with me for Thanksgiving or Christmas Eve, it was their dad's holiday to have them. I stayed home alone, didn't go to my mother's for dinner, I actually told her I was sick. The holiday didn't mean anything to me without the kids and I preferred to act like it wasn't even happening. The holidays are hard to navigate, but we as parents MUST make the holiday as happy as we can for our kids, I would never let on that my heart is broken when they are gone and I don't even want to celebrate xmas, that's not their fault or their problem. I always remember that Christmas is for children and every other year they will celebrate under my roof.

I run a website about divorce, here's a link: Divorce Lawyers in Jacksonville, FL. It's something I do in my spare time, but I find that writing about divorce and helping others navigate it is a good way to spend my time when the kids are away. Good luck to everything this holiday season.