It’s everyone’s busy time of year, but particularly for divorcing/ separating parents, family lawyers and judges, and parenting coordinators. For pending divorce cases, those who have been involved in a divorce all this year suddenly realize—-the year is almost over and I’m not divorced! Let’s get this done! Clients and lawyers are under pressure to get the case settled, mediate, or at least show progress before the holidays hit full-on. As everyone knows, starting about the week of Thanksgiving, it will be difficult to get much substantive work done before January 5.
Those going through divorce with children have added stress. In addition to the divorce (or post-divorce) upheavals, there’s school work, activities, a multitude of school-related holiday functions, getting the kids’ grades up to par before the term is over, organizing the holiday schedules with the other parent, and even planning for the Horrors of Holiday Travel with Children.
Here’s an online interview about sharing the holiday season with an ex (previously posted by me here), and I wish every separated/ divorced parent would watch this before December rolls in. “Who gets what time with the kids?” is a huge issue, and this is the time to think about it. Verify the specific exchange times for the entire Winter Break, starting with the last day the kids attend school before break, and go through the entire calendar through the day they return to school (most likely January 5 this season) when things somewhat return to normal. What I love to see is a parent send a specific December/ January calendar with notations on each of those Break days —- exchange times (specific times!) and locations, holiday parties, travel schedules. Doing this now — before Thanksgiving —- can reduce everyone’s stress level. If there’s going to be a problem with the calendar, shouldn’t you find it out now instead of on December 24?
Go ahead and decide — are you going to be the parent that made the holidays easier for the children (maybe by giving up an hour or two, or driving somewhere that you didn’t particularly want to drive?) or the parent that called the police and yelled at the other parent?