While we have written about this topic in the past, with the holidays fast approaching, it bears revisiting. The divorce process is difficult for every person involved in it, including both parents and children. Facing holidays for the first time after a divorce can be extremely hard, and many people do not know what to expect. Even for those that have weathered the holidays after a divorce before, there are some helpful tips that can make going through them again easier for everyone involved. While not an exhaustive list, the following suggestions might help you make the holiday season more successful for your entire family.
Be Specific in Your Scheduling
Divorce itself is a difficult process, and anyone who has been through it can tell you that. It may be unpleasant to discuss holiday visitation and custody issues with your soon-to-be former spouse during the divorce, but it is better to do it then than to wait until the holiday season rolls around. It is important for you to be as specific as possible in your custody plan, and holidays are no exception. Be open to your spouse’s needs and desires while advocating for your own, but do not leave any loose ends in your custody plan.
In today’s digital world, it is fairly easy to find out when a child’s vacation period will be at least for the first year after the divorce. Typically, the format of these vacation schedules does not change much even after the first year. That makes it much easier for each of you to figure out a holiday visitation and custody schedule that works for both you and your children. Once you do, make sure you adhere to it. If the kids are to be dropped off at your ex’s home at 3:15PM on December 23, then make sure that you stick to that schedule. Not only does this help you and your family avoid unnecessary conflict during an already stressful time, but it sends a message of respect to your children.
Put Your Children’s Needs Before Your Own
Keep in mind that the holidays will not just be difficult for you. They will be hard on your kids, especially the first holiday season following a divorce and especially if the divorce involves younger children. As a parent, you need to be strong in many situations, and this is one of them. Even if your custody schedule did not work out how you planned and you will have spring vacation with your kids instead of the vacation time coinciding with Christmas, what you do with your kids when you do see them will be far more important than the day you see them. You and the child’s co-parent need to take difficulty in stride and send a positive message to your children that both parents still love and respect the children.
This means you need to focus on accepting your parenting plan, even if you feel that it is unfair. If there is really an element of unfairness built in, then you should speak with your attorney about revising it. For the most part, you should also train yourself to focus on the positive aspects of the parenting plan. Make sure to keep the holidays as stress free for everyone involved as possible, and that includes making sure transitions between households are smooth and stress free. While fair is important when it comes to parenting plans, flexibility is also a must.
Make the Most of the Time You do Have
There are still ways to incorporate your children into a holiday season even if you will not see them on that special day. You can start new traditions that might not necessarily happen on a specific holiday every year, but can occur close to that holiday and be a special treat for you and your kids to share and look forward to year after year. Once you start the tradition, make sure you follow through with it. Even when your kids get older, they will still look forward to the quality time that they get to spend with both parents.
It is also important to avoid the temptation to overcompensate for what you view as lost time. You may have less time with your kids than you want, but you do not need to cram every minute with some kind of an activity. Down time is a must, especially during an already stressful season. The same goes for gifts. You do not have to give your child everything he or she could possibly want, especially at the expense of yourself and your sanity. Doing so will encourage children to look forward to material things more than to the time they can spend with you, and as children grow up they are more likely to find ways to use this type of giving in to their advantage – and that can have a lasting negative effect on the child’s relationship with both parents.
Work with Your Attorney
Custody discussions require a lot of detail and attention to nuances in custody law that can have a big impact on many aspects of your life. Your experienced Florida divorce attorney is well-equipped to help you prepare for and engage in custody negotiations. They are also uniquely qualified to handle any subsequent child custody or support modifications that may arise. It is important to be open and honest with your attorney throughout the divorce process. It is also important to maintain contact with your attorney should you require his or her services in the future. Working with the same attorney on modifications or other issues that may arise can save you time and money because your attorney is already familiar with the intimate details of your case. If you are considering divorce and have more questions about how Florida divorce works or how it could affect you, contact Scott J. Stadler to schedule a consultation and find out more about what a Florida divorce could mean for your family.