Guilderland, NY – Each year around this time Courts are inundated with parents bringing proceedings as to how to divide the holidays. Under the best of circumstances, holidays create stress; people are busy, there are financial issues and, especially with a recent separation, many painful emotional issues.
In order to save yourself, your children, and your family a lot of money and aggravation, take these suggestions to heart:
1. Have a Schedule- If you have not already established an agreement in a divorce or custody proceeding, then make a schedule. It doesn’t need to be a schedule you especially like, but any rule is better than none. Make the schedule far in advance. This way if you have a problem your attorney has the time to help you.
2. Honor Your Agreement or Court Order- If you have gone through the time, trouble and money to have a schedule, then abide by it. The other parent and your children are expecting that the children will spend certain time with each parent, don’t start dancing around at the last minute and throw everyone off. This includes showing up late, or exchanging children who are exhausted or overdosing on sugar.
3. Share the Holiday List- If your children have put together a wish list, go over it together and figure out who is getting what. Consider buying one or two things that are from both parents. This will show the children that you are a family, even if you don’t live together.
4. Keep your Extended Family Quiet- Everyone has one (or more) friends or relatives who have overinvolved themselves in your business and enjoy nothing more than bad mouthing the other parent. This puts your children in a terrible situation, and they may choose not to spend holiday time with you again. Further, most Orders and Agreements contain non-disparagement clauses. Don’t face a court proceeding because someone in your family cannot be muzzled.
5. Honor Customs- If one parent’s family always does Christmas Eve and one Christmas Day- why not keep up the tradition? This allows children to spend time with extended family and easily divides up the time.
Similarly, if attendance at a religious service for the holiday was a practice in the past, then keep that practice. Friends and relatives can join you, and it allows your family, no matter what form it takes, to continue its own tradition. The caveat to this is: the children and parents need to sit together. It is unfair for a parent to claim ownership of the children so that the other parent is relegated to the other side of the room, wishing Merry Christmas to his/her children by waving.
6. Remember the Spirit of the Season- Do something for others- collect toys for children in need, help out at a holiday meal, etc.
Don’t let your children’s memories be filled with family squabbles.
Best wishes to all of our readers for a very Happy New Year!