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HOW TO HANDLE THE HOLIDAYS – A DIVORCE ATTORNEY’S PERSPECTIVE

The holidays can be a particularly difficult time of year for clients whom have children growing up in split parent homes. Every year we attempt to inform our clients about how to best handle the holidays after a divorce or dissolution. This year, instead of informing our clients on what to consider, we have compiled a list of what divorce lawyers consider as the holidays approach. Further, we have created another list of what divorce attorneys would like to think about instead.  We wish you all the best for the upcoming holidays and, whether you are unfortunate enough to be involved in split-parent home child custody and parenting time situation, or just know someone who is, we hope that you find this article informative.

Each year, around the holidays, divorce attorneys consider the following:

  1. I am glad that I am not going through a divorce and will have to remember that my clients and their children, will need extra care and compassion, due to the divorce itself and the upcoming holiday season.
  2. My clients’ children will be away from their school counselors for a short time due to holiday breaks and I feel sorry for the children who have no objective and independent individual with whom to speak about how to handle the holidays themselves.
  3. Individuals are rationalizing that if they can just “survive the holidays” they will file for a divorce thereafter (but in reality, divorce filings don’t begin to rise in number until about March).
  4. Clients will be calling in with arguments they have been having regarding when pick-ups and drop-offs are to take place and for an interpretation of when exactly their orders provide for exchanges for Christmas, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.
  5. Individuals will be disapproving of the gifts from the other parent and stating that the gifts are not of good quality or that not enough thought was put into them.
  6. People will be complaining about how the other parent decided to spend the time with their children for the holiday.
  7. Children will hear the complaints of their parent that the other parent is behind on child support or doesn’t provide them enough money to sustain themselves.

Thinking about the upcoming holidays SHOULD make a divorce lawyer contemplate the following:

  1. I am glad that I am not going through a divorce and will have to remember that my clients who are will need extra care and compassion, due to the divorce itself and upcoming holiday season. However, my clients are currently doing their absolute best to make their children feel safe, loved, and happy.
  2. My clients’ children will be away from their school counselors for a short period of time but the counselors have given these children tools so that they can effectively handle the holidays and deal with any stress, loneliness, feelings of abandonment and feelings of guilt, or hurt that may arise during this stressful time of year.
  3. Individuals are rationalizing that if they can just “survive the holidays” they will file for a divorce thereafter to ensure that their children have the proper support, feelings of stability, and love before they proceed with a divorce.
  4. Clients will read and discuss their holiday exchange schedules ahead of the holidays and agree as to how they will execute the plan of shared parenting.
  5. Individuals will not be disapproving of the gifts from the other parent or state that the gifts are not of good quality or that not enough thought was put into the gifts.
  6. People will not be complaining about how the other parent decided to spend their time with the children for the holiday.
  7. Children will not hear the complaints of their parents that the other parent is behind on child support or doesn’t provide them enough money to sustain themselves because when children hear these complaints, the children imagine the other parent struggling to survive and begin to worry.

Many of you are in divorces or have completed divorces and are worried about your future, your children, your assets, your retirement savings, and your income. We understand that you are concerned about running out of money from a case which doesn’t come to a quick resolution and we know that you are worried that the court’s will not pay attention to your concerns or will misunderstand your reasoning for your position. Rest assured that the courts will listen to you, and your attorney will do his/ her best for you, and more importantly your children. PLEASE just take a two-week break during the holiday season and let the children enjoy the holidays. Once everyone is able to recuperate during the holidays, hopefully we can proceed in a peaceful manner after the beginning of the new year.

REMEMBER, your children are the armless, legless victims of divorce and separation and don’t have attorneys with whom they can consult about what they would like out of the divorce or separation. They don’t have the opportunity to yell, leave, threaten, sue, or do anything else in “your” divorce and yet, they may end up being the parties who are suffering the most.  Please give them a break, along with your attention and love!

William L. Geary is an attorney in Columbus, Ohio. He concentrates his practice on family law matters, as to the other members of his firm. He has been practicing since 1979 and it admitted to practice before the courts in Ohio, and in the Southern District (Federal Court) of Ohio as well as the Supreme Court of the United States.  We invite you to contact us or call 614-228-1968 to schedule an appointment with Bill or one of our experienced family law attorneys.