5 Practical Tips for Dealing with Divorce During the Holiday Season
While there is arguably no perfect time for a divorce, going through a divorce, separation, or being in the middle of a custody case during the holidays can make an already stressful season feel even more intolerable. Divorce is never easy. Even the most amicable separation often comes with emotional and legal baggage. If you are in the middle of a family law dispute during the holiday season, here are some practical tips to help make the holiday season a little easier.
1. Plan Ahead
Chances are, if you are in the middle of a divorce or separation, the way you celebrate holidays will feel a little different this year than they have in years past. Some traditions might now be unrealistic (such as celebrating with your in-laws), so it’s important to think ahead about what your holidays are going to look like, as well as what it will look like for your children. You don’t want to be deciding on plans at the last minute, and your children should know well in advance what their celebrations will look like. The sooner you can plan, the sooner you can come to terms with the fact that things are going to be different this year, and different does not mean bad.
2. Create New Traditions
Similar to the advice regarding planning ahead, it is important to not only acknowledge that things will be different, but to embrace it. Going through a divorce or separation is the perfect opportunity to create new traditions for yourself, and your family. Have fun with creating new traditions and making new memories and surround yourself with the people who matter the most to you!
3. Holiday Access and Potential Disputes
If you are already separated or divorced, and already have a Custody Order issued by the Court, it’s important to re-read your Order to make sure you and your co-parent are on the same page about how the holidays will look. Some custody agreements alternate holidays, such as one parent having the holiday in even-numbered years, and the other parent having odd-numbered years. Some custody agreements share the actual holidays themselves, such as exchanging the children in the middle of the day. Review your Order to verify your recollection of what your specific arrangement is. If you and your co-parent have a disagreement over the holiday access schedule, some Courts have special procedures in place to expeditiously address and resolve holiday access disputes. Mediation and Parent Coordination are also options to try to quickly resolve holiday access disputes.
4. End-of-Year Divorce and Taxes
Generally, the IRS determines your marital status for a particular tax year as of December 31 of that year, which may dictate how you file your taxes (Married Filing Separately or Single). Some Courts are cognizant of the fact that obtaining a Judgment of Divorce before the end of the year is beneficial for tax purposes and as such, as an accommodation that is available upon request, one or two days in late December are made available to schedule uncontested divorce hearings such that your divorce can be finalized by the end of the year.
5. Communication is Key
With all the excitement of the holidays, it is easy to let critical communication slide. Instead, put communication at the top of your priority list this season! That includes responding to your attorney, getting ahead of potential scheduling issues, and asking and answering questions regarding your children’s schedules. Also, take time to communicate with your co-parent to make sure you’re on the same page regarding gifts, as you don’t want your children to feel conflicted or put in the middle of you and your co-parent. For instance, if you want to buy your child a cell phone for the holidays, make sure you and your co-parent are on the same page about that.
If you have questions about navigating your divorce, contact Wasserman Family Law at firstname.lastname@example.org or call our main number 410-842-1070.
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