The holiday season is meant to be a bright time of merriment, gift-giving, and togetherness. However, as you might know, celebrating the holiday season can actually be the most stressful time of the year - especially post-divorce.
Your children are going to want and expect the whole family to come together for the holidays. Depending on their age, they may have no concept of what divorce even means, other than their parents are living in two separate houses. Older children may have an understanding and the family may be practicing a timesharing schedule as is provided for in a parenting plan. Regardless of the situation, the holidays bring an increased amount of pressure and stress on the parents who must ask themselves what they can do make certain their child’s holiday enjoyable without allowing the pressure to overcome the family. The answer lies in co-parenting and below we list a few suggestions to make the best of the co-parenting holiday season, and just as importantly ensure that you are not violating any court orders, which can bring a costly end to the holiday cheer.
SUGGESTION #1: Get Ahead of It – Each parent of a divorce has (or should have) a timesharing plan which is incorporated within their court approved parenting plan. The parenting plan makes reference to a calendar outlining the holiday timesharing schedule which typically coincides with the school break. Each year and every year the parents know when the holiday break is coming and the first suggestion to successful co-parenting is to get ahead of the calendar. Too often families wait until the last second to plan, discuss, or otherwise engage in discussions related to the holiday schedule, which allows the pressure and anxiety to build. Worse yet, by waiting till the last second only to find a conflict, puts the last-minute phone call to the attorney into play. By getting ahead of the calendar and planning early, the stress levels are reduced allowing for an enjoyable and successful holiday break.
SUGGESTION #2: Get on the Same Page – There is no greater element to successful co-parenting than open communication with the other parent - and the holiday season is no exception. Often times divorced families find themselves operating within the daily and weekly school calendar and operate at a structured schedule. The holidays bring a disruption to that schedule leaving parents to guess at what their ex-spouse plans are for the holiday break. Our second suggestion builds on the concept of “getting ahead” by “getting on the same page
during the holidays and opening the lines of communication with your ex-spouse. Understanding that it can be tough to engage with an ex-spouse, this hesitancy must be overcome in order to protect the children’s best interest. Begin early and reach out to the other parent with an olive branch, address each other’s plans for the break, and have open dialogue to ensure everyone is on the same page. Having this discussion earlier prevents the failures and breakdowns of communication which then can make the holidays miserable for everyone.
SUGGESTION #3: Get Serious & Put the Children First: The holiday blitz adds pressure to any family and is only magnified for a divorced family. Remaining mindful that the children’s best interest must come first will help the parents handle the additional pressures of holiday timesharing. Parents should expect that they will have to remain flexible, regardless of the fine print of their parenting plan. There is a human factors element that is often lost in parenting plans and court orders which is that each parent is human and can make mistakes even when trying their best. Resisting the temptation of engaging in conflict by focusing on putting the children first will overcome those stressful situations and the packed holiday activity schedule that always accompanies this time of year.
SUGGESTION #4: Get your Parenting Plan Out. Avoiding holiday litigation should be on all divorced parents’ wish lists. By getting ahead of the holidays, by getting on the same page, and by putting the child, first there is no reason to allow litigation to ruin the holiday season. You worked hard to come up with the terms of a parenting plan and successfully resolve your divorce. Put that hard work to use by relying on your parenting plan to assist in the communication effort if a conflict arises. Understanding the importance of remaining flexible, the parenting plan can help navigate a path to resolution when a question arises and most importantly to avoid the costly decision of litigating over the holidays. Parents understanding their roles and responsibilities and the legal impact of complying with a parenting plan should help overcome any conflicts.
Figure Out the Details with Our Help
At Robert Sparks Attorneys in Tampa, we help divorced parents throughout our community figure out workable, amicable holiday parenting plans. We can help you understand Florida’s timesharing laws, how they pertain to the holidays, and how these laws might apply to your own situation. With more than 100 years of total legal experience on our team, you can trust us to be your legal guides during this confusing time. Our award-winning team of trial attorneys is serious about the cases they represent and they are dedicated to getting serious results. When it’s time to get serious, www.getserious.com.
Call us at (813) 336-3348 if you’d like to know more about making a shared parenting plan and how we can help.