During the holiday season, divorcing, recently divorced, and separated parents can often find it difficult to find ways to make happy memories and spend meaningful time with their children. Whether you have a tradition of traveling to your in-laws’ house or settling in at home, when things change because of a divorce or separation, it isn’t easy to adjust to new circumstances. This is particularly true when you have children who are used to spending the holidays with both parents, and who may not fully understand the reasons why their parents are no longer together.
As you prepare for the 2017 holiday season, here are some tips from our New Jersey family law attorneys that you may find helpful:
1. Understand Your Legal Obligations.
First and foremost, it is important to make sure that you have a clear understanding of your legal obligations. If you are going through a divorce, do you have a temporary custody order that you need to follow? If you are formally separated or divorced, what does your parenting plan say about the holidays? Parents often choose to give special treatment to the holidays in their visitation and parenting time negotiations, and you need to make sure you know your obligations and your legal rights.
2. Work Out a Plan in Advance.
For many parents, it can be beneficial to discuss the specifics of their holiday plans in advance. This is especially true with regard to things like travel, where one parent takes the children to spend time with friends or family. Also, consider options like setting aside time to talk on the phone or Facetime for the parent who is spending the holidays alone.
3. Try to Start New Traditions.
Starting new traditions can help add positive change to the holidays as your children adjust to life with separated or divorced parents. Instead of doing what you did last year, find a new way to celebrate, try a new recipe, or invite new friends or family members who can help make the day special.
4. Avoid Blaming or Talking Negatively about Your Children’s Other Parent.
This is important generally, but particularly worth emphasizing in the context of the holiday season. If scheduling is difficult or if it is not your turn to spend the holidays with your children, avoid blaming your former partner or spouse. Also, avoid letting any feelings you may have lead to you speaking negatively about your children’s other parent.
5. Listen to Your Children.
What do your children want to do for the holidays? How are they feeling about the changes in their lives? While you may not always be able to attend to your children’s wishes, oftentimes, simply letting them know that they are being heard can be enough.
6. Talk to an Attorney if You Need Help.
If you need help – whether you are unclear on your visitation or parenting time rights during the holidays or your former spouse or partner is violating the terms of your separation or divorce – you should speak with an attorney sooner rather than later. Violating the terms of your separation or divorce can have significant consequences, and addressing any issues before they lead to major confrontations is usually best for everyone involved.
7. Keep Everyone’s Best Interests in Mind.
Finally, while it can be difficult, it is important to try to keep everyone’s best interests in mind. The more you can understand your former spouse’s or partner’s position on key issues, the better able you will be to foster constructive discussions and lead the way toward formulating a holiday plan that provides the most happiness for your children.
Schedule a Confidential Consultation at MR. Men’s Rights Divorce & Family Law of New Jersey by Schultz & Associates, LLC
If you have questions and would like to speak with a New Jersey family law attorney, you can contact the Hackensack law offices of MR. Men’s Rights Divorce & Family Law of New Jersey by Schultz & Associates, LLC for a confidential case evaluation. To schedule an appointment at your convenience, please call (201) 880-9770 or send us a message online today.