Happy Holidays! I Hate You: Coparenting the Holiday Season

Family Law

A frequent source of calls at a law office this time of year revolves around disputes about how children will spend the holidays either during a divorce or separation when there is no order in place, or when there is an order in place that people either don’t follow or don’t understand. Unfortunately, judges do not take this as seriously as you do — they don’t usually respond positively to emergency hearings to determine where a child is waking up Christmas morning or eating his or her turkey or spinning his or her dreidel.

The best thing to do is first to have a clear order in place for the holidays when it is possible to do so. It is also a good idea if you’re in the middle of a divorce to have these conversations months in advance so expectations are set. Letters can be sent to attorneys, conversations can be had…

But in the end, the answer may not be so much a legal one as a human one. Your child does not want to be a pawn and if the other parent is making them one, you can choose to be the adult and refocus the child on the ability to have holidays with people you love on any date. Some suggestions:

  • Make your own holiday. Dad has them on Thanksgiving Day? The next day you can eat turkey with the kids and call it Thanksgiving just the same. Or make their favorite food if they aren’t a turkey fan. Make it an annual tradition whether you have them on Thanksgiving or not to always have a special extra one.
  • Make it a teachable moment. Speak to your children about sharing and how much you love spending time with them but that you want them to have happy times everywhere.
  • Enjoy yourself. Don’t let an ugly hearted co-parent take your peace. You can find a way to enjoy the holiday and rise above all the anger and pettiness, focus on yourself and what brings you happiness on the holiday. Spend time with friends or family or even by yourself if that’s what you love. Make it special anyway. The best revenge is living well.

If you need legal advice for dealing with complex co-parenting issues, or need to know what the line is before the law will get involved, call for a free consult 856-227-7888.

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