Navigating Divorce during the Holidays:  A Guide To A Civil Season

Next week is Thanksgiving, which will officially kick off the 2015 Holiday Season.  Holidays are stressful for every family and especially so for families going through divorce, separation, or child custody disputes.  Even if you and your partner are not on good terms, there are some ways to mitigate the impact on yourself and your children.  If you or your spouse/former spouse have received an order from the court stipulating child custody or support for the holidays, please review it with an attorney.  Many custody agreements stipulate holidays and visitation times.
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  1. Makes a List of what holiday events and traditions are important to you.

There will be a lot of opportunities over the next two months to make very special and enjoyable memories for you and your family.  Try and plan ahead so your Christmas Eve party does not become a family feud.  Make a list of the important dates and times that you want to focus on so you have an idea of what is worth fighting over.  Some families have a large gathering on Christmas Eve or a big Christmas Dinner.  If you have young children, Christmas morning might be your hold card.

  1. Approach your Partner First

No one wants to have an uncomfortable conversation about who gets the kids and when.  It is important to make the attempt early before the stress begins to get overwhelming.  This first move also gives you an advantage as your partner has likely not planned out his/her priorities and may give you an edge on getting what times are most important.

  1. Leave Room for Negotiation

Understand that your partner may be as interested in seeing your kids open their presents or having Thanksgiving with them as much as you do.  Be open to compromise, without sacrificing your own happiness.  Mealtimes can be adjusted and arrangements made to accommodate both parties.  Also, talk to your children and see what is important to them, it might surprise you how mature and thoughtful they can be.

  1. Try not to Project Your Own Feelings

Children are professionals in observing their environments.  Before they could talk or understand words they were watching your body language and responding to the tone of your voice.  Try to be positive, if not for your own emotional health, do it for theirs.  Avoid having arguments with your partner in front of them, even if it is over the phone.  Keep your sarcasm and comments to a minimum.  With that in mind, be upfront about plans for the holidays, give them plenty of time to digest the information and they will be more comfortable when the day comes.

  1. Enjoy Yourself …… Responsibly

No matter the circumstances, it is best to focus on the holiday and not the divorce.  Child support, custody disputes, and all the rest of the grisly details can wait until January.  Surround yourself with supportive friends and family and try to make time for yourself.  That being said, try and make smart decisions.  Many times a DUI, or emotional argument will be brought up with the judge in court.  Keep your text and posts on social media positive.  Your humility and grace will pay big dividends later.  This is the season for giving, being thankful, and, most of all, family.  Life doesn’t always deal with a fair hand, but you can choose which cards to play.
Happy Holidays from the Law Office of Massey & Duffy, PLLC.  If you or your loved one are experiencing a divorce, please call our office at (352) 505-8900 for a consultation today.


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