I have counseled so many separated parents about how to make Christmas ‘work’! The Family Code considers the holiday to be divided whereby each year, one parent will have the children from the time school is out until December 28, and the other parent will have the children from December 28 until the school begins. Since that is a legislative suggestion, I remind clients that if they have a contested hearing on the this issue, it is a likely result.
My question to the client, however, is “What is the practice of your family?” Does your family typically go out of town? Do you have a situation where one of the parents is Christian and the other is Jewish? Does a one year old really know that Christmas is on December 25?
Clearly, it is hard to think about how your children “feel” when you are going through a divorce. However, as this attorney always reminds you, You SHOULD try to think about how your actions can impact that child’s feelings. Consider these suggestions:
If you are Jewish and your spouse is not, consider taking the holiday every year in the second half; And remember that Chanukah is seven nights. If you are not Jewish and your soon to be ex is, then always let the child have one day to celebrate the Festival of Lights;
Travel during the holidays is stressful for everyone. If you are taking the children out of town, do not forget that you are to give an itinerary to the other parent. Send over the itinerary at the time you make the reservations. Then you will not forget and you will not be accused of “keeping” information
Always allow the child to contact his other parent when they are with you. Even if you are not happy with that person, I assure you the Court will appreciate that kindness;
A child has no problem with celebrating Christmas more than just one time. If you are not the parent with possession on December 24 or December 25 – just celebrate on another date! Too many presents? Too many cookies? I doubt it! So, if you do not have the children on December 24 or 25 you can still “celebrate”!
Christmas time is also hard on family law offices. The staff on your case also have a family and are hoping to spend some time with them. Please remember that your case is important, but not the only case in the office. A thank you to the legal assistant on your case is a great gift! The best gift is giving, and I am not speaking about money and things. Try to show your appreciation and value those who are trying to help you.
Do not forget to look forward during the holiday season. Things do get better, as they just get resolved. Divorce does not last forever, and hopefully your divorce action will only include only ONE holiday season!