The Holidays and Divorced or Separating Families

The holidays can be fraught with tension for many families who are divorced or who are in transition. Over the years of my practice as a family law attorney, I have developed a list of those things that can help during this complicated time of year.

1. Plan ahead.  That may sound simple but very often clients find themselves in “emergencies” that their ex-spouse has generated. Sit down with a calendar and plan the days that loom ahead. Ask yourself if you and your co-parent are in agreement on where and when the children will be for each designated holiday. These details should be in a well-drafted Parenting Plan.  However, parents may disagree on the language or fairness of the allocation of parenting time. This needs to be addressed before the holiday season and not on the day before a major event.

  • Communicate in writing with the other parent. Outline the itinerary if applicable for the upcoming holidays. Confirm in writing that there is an agreement regarding the pick -up times, dates, and any other details that are necessary. Document your efforts to resolve any dispute or your efforts at co-parenting.
  • Let the children or teenagers know of the plans. This discussion and how it is presented varies by age and developmental level. They should not be put in the middle of any discussion where there is a dispute. However, letting them know of the schedule can help ease any anxiety about how the holidays will be celebrated with each parent.
  • Stay positive and be flexible.

2. Determine how you will communicate with your children when they aren’t with you. Don’t infringe on the other parent’s time. Let them know you care, but keep it short and positive.

3. If you are struggling with the holidays as a result of the divorce or simply because they are hard, don’t share that with the children. Things will get better.  

4. If there is an emergency or your ex-spouse is being difficult, keep in mind that judges don’t respond favorably to emergencies that are a result of procrastinating or playing gotcha with the other parent. If you anticipate a problem, plan ahead and let your attorney know of your concerns well in advance of the upcoming holiday or event.

5. Prepare your children or teens for the transitions and changes. Do the right thing and take the high road.

6. Do your best to enjoy the holiday events. Create new rituals for yourself and with your children.

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About MickiMoran

Micki Moran is the founding partner of The Child and Family Law Center, Ltd. She dedicates her practice to providing legal assistance to children and families who are in need of representation in the areas of special education, disability law, juvenile and young adult criminal law, abuse and neglect, guardianship and mental health issues. Micki's practice is founded on the principle that children and their families require and deserve excellent legal representation with a multidisciplinary approach that works with multiple systems of care and creates communities that support and improve the quality of all peoples' lives.
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