I was in Essex Probate and Family Court this week and seeing the lines going out the door reminded me that sharing time with your children during the holidays is easier said than done. The probation departments are overflowing with distressed moms and dads, either armed with lawyers or not, waiting to meet with the court mediator or judge, predictably for the implementation of a parenting plan for the holidays.
If your agreement provides for a schedule and some methodology for sharing this holiday, you may be fine. That parenting plan, as we term it, is essential for surviving the stress and demands of the season. If, however, your agreement does not have a parenting plan that specifically describes where the children will be for the holidays, of if you currently have no parenting plan in place, you may be one of those distressed moms or dads in the courthouse trying to battle it out.
So what, you ask, is the usual scenario for the sharing of holidays? The short answer is that there isn’t one. Each couple is different and therefore, the parenting plans will vary. When drafting parenting plans I try to stick with the family traditions which the children have become accustomed to while celebrating the holiday. As in any family, traditions will morph and change over the years, but particularly in the first few years after a divorce or breakup, it is important to try to preserve some predictability for the children.
I have often maintained that negotiating some of the issues are not as complicated as brain surgery, but emotions make the matter extremely complicated. It is important for both sides to put down their swords, and try to focus on what is in the best interest of the children. If you or someone you know is struggling with parenting schedules for the holidays, I would be happy to meet and attempt resolution for via court intervention, individual counseling, or mediation.
We wish all of you happy holidays as well as a happy, healthy New Year.