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Keeping Christmas from Becoming a Contest When You Are a Parent of Divorce

Keeping Christmas from Becoming a Contest When You Are a Parent of Divorce

Christmas-celebration

If you are a divorced parent with minor children, Christmas can be involve more stress and anxiety than good cheer. Whether you are the custodial or non-custodial parent, you can easily get caught up in a sense of competition—who’s giving the children the best gifts? Or the ones they really want? Who’s having the best celebration? It can be hard on you, but rest assured, it can be much harder for your children. Here are some tips to help make the holidays more jolly for everyone.

Communicate about Presents

It’s best to have conversations, generally outside the earshot of your children, about what they need and want for Christmas. Agree upon a spending limit that’s fair to both parties. If there are gifts that your children want, rather than need, try to split those up, so that each parent gets to enjoy giving the child something that makes his or her eyes light up. And no surprises—getting your child a really big ticket item may make you feel good momentarily, and your child may be excited as well, but it will wear off and your child will feel pain for the other  parent, and will feel  put in the middle.

Talk about Festivities

Share your holiday plans with your ex and see if you can work out a compromise that allows your children to have quality time with both of you. It’s a really great idea to alternate holidays every year…Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Years. The earlier you start that practice, the more accepted it will be, and the less disappointment you’ll have from children who have become accustomed to only one way of doing things. Try to minimize travel back and forth, too. You might have the children spend Christmas Eve at one house and stay overnight, but spend the rest of the day with the other parent, once presents are opened in the morning.

Be Willing to Compromise

A little flexibility is a good thing. Be willing to let the deadlines be just a little fuzzy, but keep your ex honest. When you set good boundaries with each other, your children benefit, too.

Be Willing to Spend a Few Minutes Together as a Family

One of the most powerful things you can do during the holidays is to drop your defenses. Stay and have some cookies with your ex and the children when you drop them off. Give your children the opportunity to see you acting like a grownup.

Contact Us

At the office of Linda Stewart Law, PLLC, in Baytown, we bring more than 8 years of experience to clients in south Texas. To learn how we can help, call our office at 281-761-6042 or contact us online. We offer an initial consultation at a reduced fee of $50. We accept credit cards and will set up a payment plan, if appropriate. Our offices are open Monday through Thursday, from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., and until noon on Fridays. Evening and weekend appointments can be arranged upon request.

Se Habla Espanol | ASL and ESL Services Also Available

Visitation and the Holidays

Visitation and the Holidays

Visitation-and-the-Holidays

You may have a visitation schedule that works very effectively during the rest of the year, but things are typically different during the holidays. Your kids will have a certain amount of time off from school and may need adult supervision. In addition, you’ll want to spend more quality time with them, if you can. The best way to ensure that the holidays don’t magnify your stress level is to agree to a holiday schedule in advance and stick to it.

There are a number of ways that you can deal with visitation at the holidays:

 

  • One of the most common approaches is to alternate major holidays every year—if your children were with you on Christmas last year, they’ll be with you this year. This gives both parents the opportunity to share holidays with their children and offers the same experience to kids. Don’t ever consider having some kids with mom and others with dad on the same day—bad idea, as the kids will naturally talk about which place was best. It’s what kids do.
  • You can also set up two holiday celebrations. Christmas is on the 25th with one parent and on the Sunday before with the other parent.
  • Divide the day up for major holidays like Christmas or Thanksgiving. Let children wake up in one house and spend the afternoon and evening in the other parent’s home. With Thanksgiving, you may have your children with one parent on Thanksgiving Day and with the other parent on Friday.
  • For some parents, it works to have assigned holidays. For example, if you are in the hospitality business and your ex is not, you may have obligations every New Years Eve, so you may agree to have the children with your ex for that holiday every year.

Contact Us

At the office of Linda Stewart Law, PLLC, in Baytown, we bring more than 8 years of experience to clients in south Texas. To learn how we can help, call our office at 281-761-6042 or contact us online. We offer an initial consultation at a reduced fee of $50. We accept credit cards and will set up a payment plan, if appropriate. Our offices are open Monday through Thursday, from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., and until noon on Fridays. Evening and weekend appointments can be arranged upon request.

Se Habla Espanol | ASL and ESL Services Also Available

Living Close for the Sake of the Children

In the aftermath of a divorce, one of the most challenging and emotionally difficult issues to deal with is not seeing your children, regardless of whether you are the custodial or non-custodial parent. While the natural inclination may be to put some distance between you and your ex, some parents are choosing to stay close, primarily for the benefit of children.

One couple in Brooklyn, recently divorced, decided to keep their three-unit brownstone there, with one parent living on the second floor, the other living at the garden level, and the parties renting out the middle apartment. They say that, though it was a challenge at first to ensure that the privacy of all parties was respected, the arrangement has proved to be a huge benefit for everyone involved.  There is no need to pack for kids when they visit the other parent, no need to drop off children and pick them up. In addition, if either parent has a work emergency, the other is right there, able to step in and meet the needs of the children. For the kids, it ensures that they’ll never be too far away from their favorite book or stuffed animal.

For some parents, the concept of “bird-nesting” works, where the children stay in one home and the parents rotate in and out. Most who have tried it, though, say it presents a lot of challenges, requiring the visiting parent to constantly check to see if they have clothes and other necessary items.

The preferred approach of many is to stay a few blocks from each other, where they can walk to see of pick up children, and where children can easily commute back and forth.

Contact Us

At the office of Linda Stewart Law, PLLC, in Baytown, we bring more than 8 years of experience to clients in south Texas. To learn how we can help, call our office at (281) 420-8020 or contact us online. We offer an initial consultation at a reduced fee of $50. We accept credit cards and will set up a payment plan, if appropriate. Our offices are open Monday through Thursday, from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., and until noon on Fridays. Evening and weekend appointments can be arranged upon request.

Se Habla Espanol | ASL and ESL Services Also Available

The Importance of Establishing a Visitation Schedule in Texas

When it comes time to create a visitation schedule for your children, you may be amazed by how complex the standard possession order is. You may find yourself thinking, “How can I possibly know which parent should spend the 4th of July with Tommy four years from now??”

Keep in mind that, while the visitation schedule can change, it is important to get a schedule established during the divorce process. This is true even if you have a decent relationship with your ex and don’t anticipate any struggles over visitation and child rearing. There are several reasons why it is important to establish a written, comprehensive visitation schedule during the divorce process, rather than leaving the guidelines unwritten:

In case one parent violates the agreement

Hope for the best but plan for the worst. A written visitation schedule is important to have in case one parent starts to deny visitation time or stops using scheduled visitation time. Without a written plan, it will not be easy to prove that anything has changed.

Routine is vitally important to children

Study after study shows that children need to be able to predict their daily routines in order to concentrate on the job of learning and growing. Children of divorced parents face a lot of challenges to their need for routines. A written, regular visitation schedule helps children of all ages let go of any anxiety associated with moving from house to house.

Making a visitation schedule is good practice to develop healthy communication with your ex

You are divorcing, but you will always both be the parents of your children. Your children will need you and your ex to communicate in healthy, pro-active ways. Working together with your ex to build a visitation schedule that is in your children’s best interests is an excellent first step to building post-divorce communication skills.

As you develop a visitation schedule, with help from your divorce lawyer, keep in mind that the best schedule for your child might not be the same as the most convenient schedule for you. Also remember that the schedule will need to change as your child grows and his or her developmental needs change.

The website TXAccess.org, published by Legal Aid of Northwest Texas, has answers to many frequently asked questions about visitation and child custody.

Stewart Law, PLLC, located in Baytown, Texas, has provided legal counsel to men and women in child custody and visitation cases for 8 years. For an initial assessment and consultation of your custody case, contact our family law firm online or call our office at (281) 420-8020, at a reduced fee of $50.

 
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