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Birmingham, Mich. – Nov. 17, 2016 – ‘All is calm. All is bright.’ Not exactly the words many divorced families would use to describe their holiday season, but Jessica Woll, managing partner of family law firm, Woll & Woll, P.C., who blogs and tweets @DivorceWisdom, knows that if both parents focus on being civil and put in a little extra effort to compromise, holiday festivities can be cordial and have a happy ending.
According to the Michigan-based family law attorney, who has more than 22 years expertise in complex divorce and family law issues, holidays and time with the family may be stressful in ideal situations. “Now add in separate households, new relationships and different schedules, and even the best intentions for joyful celebrations may go awry,” Woll said.
With millions of parents having to share or split time with their minor children over the holidays, Woll offers a simple checklist with 7 holiday survival tips.
- Acknowledge and accept that the holidays may look and feel differently.
Don’t dwell on the past; embrace new beginnings.
- Remain “child-centric” at all times.
A child’s needs always come first. Ask what your child will benefit from most. What will create happy holiday memories? “When parents answer these questions as if they were the child, the answer places the child’s needs first,” Woll said. “And yes, this may mean allowing the child to pick out a gift for the other parent at the ex’s expense.”
- Be flexible. As children grow and their needs change, a holiday parenting schedule created when the child was five-years-old may not be right for the child at 15. “If a judgment of divorce calls for equal parenting time over the winter break and holidays, remember that mathematical equality might not be perfect for each child, every year of their life, until they turn 18,” she said.
- Remember to share the children.
“I have found that young children want nothing more than to spend time with both of their parents at the same time—and this wish can be most powerful during the holidays,” Woll said. “If parents can stomach it, try to include the ex in one of the family events or plan a small outing for just the parents and the child; something as simple as going to a movie can create a happy holiday memory for children.”
- Start a new holiday tradition.
“Whether it’s simply reading a special holiday book or taking a family trip, creating new traditions as the children grow can help ease the loss they feel as a result of their parents’ separation and make the holidays more manageable and enjoyable for all,” Woll said.
- Control emotions and “fake it ’til you make it.”
“The holidays are the worst time to utter even one negative comment about the other parent or his/her family. While many parents are divorced because they have been wronged by their ex, they may have to fake it and shelve their feelings, especially during the holidays,” Woll said.
- Planning and communication are imperative.
Ample planning and communication can help the season go smoothly for both the parents and children. It may also save parents from rushing to court at the last minute to enforce holiday parenting time agreements. “The goal is to stay out of court; planning with the ex several weeks, or even months, before the holidays arrive and confirming plans in writing can help achieve this goal,” Woll said.
About Woll & Woll, P.C.
Woll & Woll, P.C. specializes in divorce and family law, including legal separation, post-judgment of divorce matters, removal of domicile actions, stepparent adoption, custody, child support, paternity and other family issues. Learn more here.