Perhaps one of the most difficult times of year to be a divorce attorney is the time between Halloween and New Year’s. Parents place a lot of importance on having their children with them and preserving all of their holiday celebration traditions. I have seen repeatedly a parent refuse to recognize that the other parent wants to also celebrate too. I have also seen countless cases where the parents have no holiday agreement in pace before the holiday season starts.
Before I impart some of my ideas, I want to place a warning. Most of the Judges I have practiced in front of are well aware of the ugliness that comes out in November and December and are very reluctant to give families hearing times, especially in cases where they have had months to prepare and work out parenting times in advance. They also know that there are quite a few specious keep-away games played in the lead-up to the end of the year. Expecting a Judge, especially one that has heard similar stories for weeks on end, to make time for a litigating family now is asking for the wrath of the Judge to rain upon them and to spend their Christmas money ensuring their lawyer has a great holiday. Additionally, if you are attorneyed up, your lawyer does not want to hear from you after December 22nd. They too want to actually celebrate - not calm clients down when the other parent is 15 minutes late. Trust me: I have received countless calls and emails at the holidays about similar problems.
So, what can a person do? If you are going through a divorce right now, your whole life is changing. It could be time to reevaluate your holiday celebration traditions too. Simply because you have done something in the past does not mean you have to every single year in the future too. Prioritize which holiday traditions mean the most to you and which your children enjoy the most. Additionally, be aware that your child probably wants to celebrate holidays with their other parent. Love your child enough to allow them to also share the joys of the holidays with their other parent, rather than punishing the other person.
Children are incredibly adaptable. They know that Santa can visit at both houses - and if you are struggling for an example, let your children know that Santa arranges other days to spread his Christmas magic for children who are in the hospital, as well as for children whose parents are overseas and importantly, Santa can arrange to bring presents on another day for them too. They understand that they might have a different way of celebrating than before. Most children are excited that they might get presents at both houses - in fact, they brag about getting more stuff than their friends whose parents are married. Do not place your child in a place that they have to choose which house they will be at or tell them Santa can only come to your house or other things that will ruin their Christmas. Instead, open your imagination. Make another day just as special. It could be Christmas Eve, December 27th, New Year’s Eve or another day. With respect to thanksgiving, it could be the Saturday before or the Saturday after. What is important is that you can celebrate, not when you celebrate.
If you do not want to go through the drama of attempting to obtain a holiday order from the jammed up Court system, I can start on your case now, so that you can have your holidays in place for 2022.