Holidays, like Thanksgiving and Christmas, are meant to be joyous and happy. But for those parents going through a divorce, these holidays present a special challenge. It is best for the children if the parents can communicate with each other and, as much as possible, maintain family traditions for the children. If parents cannot come to an agreement, they must comply with the possession schedule ordered by the court.
One-Size Fits All Standard Court Order Does Not Fit All
If a family is going through a divorce, they are essentially handing over their decision-making power to the decision-maker, either Judge or jury, in the court in which their case is filed. Although well-meaning and experienced in these situations, the Judge does not know the parents, or the children involved beyond the very limited information that is presented at a short hearing or a longer trial. In most cases, the standard possession order will be applied, which is essentially a one-size-fits-all order that may not be the best fit for your family. Under that schedule, one parent spends the Thanksgiving holiday and the second half of the Christmas vacation with the children in one year, and in the next year, that parent will not have the children on Thanksgiving, but will spend the first half of the Christmas vacation with the children.
Parents Can Make Their Own Decisions About Holiday Time
The standard possession order specifically provides that the parents can agree to an alternate arrangement. Parents are encouraged to work out an agreement between themselves that will make the holidays happier for the children and hopefully will include events that are particularly important to the family. For example, if they have always gone to Aunt Susie’s house on Christmas Eve, or always been with their cousins on Christmas morning to open presents, but one parent has possession during those times, it would help the children if the parents could agree to modify the standard schedule to accommodate the interests of the children and the normal routine of the family.
It is also best if the parents can encourage the children to communicate with the other parent during the holidays. They can use FaceTime, text, or perhaps even get together with the other parent for dinner. One parent can encourage the children to get a Christmas present for the other one.
A collaborative divorce allows people more latitude in working through the issues of holiday and everyday possession of the children. With the help of the collaborative team, the parents do not have to face these decisions alone during this time of stress and upheaval for their family. The professional team provides them the support and assistance that they need as they go through the collaborative divorce process and make decisions that are in the best interest of their children.