Many issues come up around the holidays for those who are divorced, those in the middle of a divorce and even for those contemplating a divorce. The holiday season can be very busy for family law attorneys and the family courts. The general holiday advice of starting early to avoid holiday stress is even more important in the area of child custody and divorce.
Contemplating Divorce? You can take steps before the holidays!
We often hear individuals say they want to wait until after the holidays to begin the divorce process. Others insist that they do not want to spend another miserable holiday and would much prefer starting their new life and beginning new traditions before the season begins. New Year’s Eve appointments are common with a client saying: “I want to begin this process before the year is out.”
Everyone’s situation is different and you might want to evaluate yours with a family law attorney. You may discover alternatives you had not considered. Meeting with a family law attorney does not mean the divorce is inevitable. It might just be a good information gathering session.
Already divorced? Check your parenting plan!
Most parenting plans (as the custody arrangement is called in Washington State) make provisions for the holidays but often they are vague and open to interpretation. The best way to avoid conflict is to plan ahead and make sure that you and your ex spouse are clear about holiday plans including transportation arrangements and costs if necessary.
Even if you are getting along, it is important to get it in writing. It could avoid trauma and save money to work with your family law attorney to revise your parenting plan so that it is specific. Do it now! The courts do not consider holiday plans an emergency and you will not get assistance from the court if you wait until December.
In the middle of a divorce? Plan ahead!
It seems that Christmas is an issue regardless of the parents’ religious practices. Calling it “Winter Holidays” sometimes helps. Often the parents alternate Thanksgiving and Christmas. Some parents want to do things the same every year. This might involve Christmas Eve with one parent and Christmas Day with the other. Some divide the school vacation and plan a trip with the children. There is no one right way to devise a holiday parenting plan.
Your top priority is making it a pleasant holiday for the children. Perhaps some new traditions can be started or new ways to carry on old traditions. Emotions might be raw right now and communication may have broken down. Your attorney can help you plan ahead for the holidays so that you are not engaging in last minute traumatic negotiations.
Your best chance of success is devising a plan early. Family law attorneys are experienced in helping divorcing parents craft such a plan and getting it in writing to avoid future misunderstandings.