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Spending the Holidays in a Split Family

Spending The Holidays In A Split FamilyThe holidays are a special time of year for most families.  After all, this is the time we are supposed to express our gratitude for each other.  How does this work for families that are divorced or separated?

The most formal approach is to include holidays, summers and spring recess with dates, times and locations in a divorce Marital Settlement Agreement.  Both parents agree on the terms of the time sharing schedule.  Some parents have unconventional work schedules so a detailed agreement is necessary.  Not only will this keep both parents organized, it could reduce the cost of day care expenses.  This agreement is a legal document that has teeth in the courts and can hold a non-abiding parent accountable.   An experienced Family Law attorney can assist non-married parents with a similar agreement.

How do you decide with whom the child will spend each holiday? Very carefully.  This is one of those situations in which you must put the benefit of the children above your own feelings.

Consider alternating important holidays and years, mom has Thanksgiving and dad has Hanukah or Christmas, and switch the following year.

Review family traditions – Dad’s family always has Thanksgiving dinner at grandma’s house with all the cousins or mom always attends Christmas Eve mass.  Consistency allows children to adjust easier to change in the family dynamics.

Compare work schedules – kids are out of school for a longer period of time between Christmas and New Year’s.  Does mom have the time to take off from work?  Can dad afford childcare while he is at work?

What happens if parents are not able to come to an agreement?  The court will create the timesharing schedule in a more impersonal manner for the family.  It may or may not take in consideration your love for Thanksgiving dinner.  It will however ensure that equal time is spent with each parent.

An end to a relationship or marriage does not bring an end to parenting.  Parenting lasts forever.  Many parents are able to work out agreements which must be reduced to writing and meet the legal requirements on their own while others need outside assistance from a family law attorney.  Child support is based upon a formula which must include the overnights reflected in a timesharing and parenting plan.  for time sharing arrangements and parenting plans, child support, alimony, enforcement or modification, or other family issues.    Ronald A. Luzim has been providing presuit and postsuit mediation services as a state certified family law and circuit civil mediator for over 25 years.  Contact his Coral Springs office at 954-755-1500 for more information.