Tag: holidays

Tips for Negotiating and Managing a Timesharing Schedule

Tips for Negotiating and Managing a Timesharing Schedule

As if juggling a child’s busy schedule with ballgames, play auditions, church functions, birthday parties and other activities of your little social butterfly were not enough, adding a co-parenting timesharing schedule into the mix makes it even tougher.  The timesharing schedule may be one that is negotiated through settlement discussions with the other party, reached at mediation or it may be ordered by the Court. Regardless of how your timesharing schedule is determined, there are some very fundamental and key points that you need to keep in mind.

1.  Keep It Simple

I have had cases where parents are bouncing the child back and forth night to night or during the day. The dad gets every third leap day and the mom gets each evening where Jupiter aligns with Mars. UGH!  Of course, I am exaggerating to make a point, but it is a valid point nonetheless.  Obviously, you and the other parent have some difficulty getting along otherwise, you would probably still be together.  Therefore, avoid as many misunderstandings or opportunities for argument as possible by keeping your schedule as simple and easy to understand as possible.

Keeping the schedule as simple as possible will also help provide your child some stability. Children can often adapt better if they understand and follow a routine.  They can quickly learn “Monday is a mommy day;” or “I was with mom last weekend so I will be at dad’s this weekend.”

2.  Help the Children Understand

Like I said oftentimes knowing what to expect can put children’s minds at ease in a co-parenting situation. Help your child understand the timesharing schedule. Make it available to your child in a way that is easy to understand. Perhaps a printed calendar posted on the refrigerator or a dry erase board. For older, more tech-savvy children, set up an online calendar with the days marked.  This is actually very easy to do with many of the online calendars because you can program in repeating events. There are also a number of apps available in the iTunes and Google Play stores specifically for family scheduling.

3.  Do Not Forget Holidays and Important Family Events

Most standard visitation schedules promulgated by the Courts have many of the big holidays spelled out.  This is often a good place to start if you are trying to develop your own parenting schedule. Also, if your family has a big family reunion or other special event each year, you should factor that into the schedule.  Some other things that may come up are birthdays, family events such as weddings or funerals.  It is a good idea to also review your child’s school calendar to determine when there are long weekends or breaks for you and the other parent to consider.

4.  Get It Documented

You and your co-parent or ex-spouse may be getting along beautifully, and that is wonderful.  However, you need to prepare for the day when you may not agree on things. In that case, you had better have your timesharing plan well-documented and filed with the Court. If it is not documented, who is to say who gets what time? If it is not on file with the Court and adopted as part of a custody order or divorce decree, the Court cannot enforce it with the Court’s contempt powers.

This also applies if at some point you and your ex change the timesharing schedule. Sometimes it evolves over time. Sometimes you have to change as a result of changed circumstances like when the child starts school. Whatever the reason, get it documented and make sure the Court file reflects what is happening with you, your ex and your child.

Getting everyone on board with your timesharing schedule and keeping everyone properly informed will go a long way to making your life as a co-parent much, much smoother.

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Photo courtesy of Dafne Cholet

New Year, New Life – Why Do Divorce Filings Increase in January?

New Year, New Life – Why Do Divorce Filings Increase in January?

Ask most any divorce and child custody attorney and they will tell you that divorce and timesharing modification filings increase in January.  According to the American Academy of Matrimonial Attorneys, filings in the month of January increase by as much as 27%-33% in the month of January and February over the average month.

In a survey of 2000 couples from 2014, one in five of those couples stated that they intended to file for divorce after the holiday season.  This is fairly common.  Many couples are reluctant to break up the home or begin proceedings during Thanksgiving, Hanukah, or Christmas.  While it may not have any real legal ramifications, it does not exactly help one’s social standing to serve your spouse with divorce papers on Christmas Eve.

Spouses with children are even more reluctant to file during the holidays.  There is so much tradition and emphasis on the holidays, especially Christmas, that many parents cling to the idea that they will give the children just one more Christmas with the family intact.  The efficacy of this is debatable depending on the toxicity of the spouse’s relationship.  One could wind up with scenes more reminiscent of the Christmas Vacation movie rather than a Hallmark card or Norman Rockwell painting.

The newly single (or those wishing to be) do not appear to want to be alone for long.  According to a MarketWatch article from 2015, January 4th is the peak date for online dating sites.  According to MarketWatch, popular online dating site, Match.com, sees a 38% increase in new registrations between December and February.  Actually around one third of new marriages now actually begin online.  Some sources say marriages that begin online actually have a higher success rate than those who meet offline.  On the other hand, if things do not work out, there is always next year.

Photo courtesy of Epic Fireworks

Dealing With Divorce During the Holidays

Dealing With Divorce During the Holidays

We are going into the crazy-fun time of year known as “the holidays.” It is a time of gathering together with family and friends, feasting, going to parties, and having a good time.  Unfortunately, for those going through a divorce, and especially those trying to co-parent, the holidays can be a time of endless stress, arguments and calls to their attorney.  It can really make it difficult to get yourself into the festive, holiday spirit.  Hopefully, the following tips will be useful.

  1. Relax – This is supposed to be a joyous time.  Don’t spend it winding yourself up into knots.  Be patient with yourself, definitely with your children, and with the other members of your family.  You will probably find yourself grieving what you feel that you have lost and old wounds may try to reopen.  Try to focus on the positive aspects and true meaning of the holidays.
  2. Plan ahead – Plan to do something really fun for the holidays.  Put it on the calendar so that it is something to look forward to.  If you are unable to get together with family or friends, maybe plan a vacation getaway.
  3. Create new family traditions – A divorce may mean that you can no longer have certain family traditions.  Now is an excellent time to let go of the past and start new rituals and family traditions.  Maybe the ex got all of the Christmas decorations in the divorce.  This is your opportunity to take the kids to select new decorations.  Maybe you start taking them to buy or make a new ornament each year.
  4. Be flexible – What is more important, that you and your family are together or that you are together on one specific day?  Keep focused on what is important.  My family is made up of so many “blended families” that we gave up celebrating major holidays on the actual day years ago.  We now plan our celebrations on the Sunday preceding the holiday so as not to conflict with anyone else’s plans.  It as worked out great and we all get to spend time together.
  5. Remember the children – Reassure them that holiday celebrations will continue, but in a different way.  Take time to sit down and brainstorm with them about how they want to celebrate or new traditions they want to start.
  6. Keep the children’s best interest in mind – Decide ahead of time with your ex how you are dividing the holidays.  Try to be civil with one another.  Reassure the children that you will be fine and encourage them to have a good time at the other parent’s house.  Children often take their emotional cues from the parents.
  7. It’s not a competition – The Beatles had it right, you can’t buy love.  Do not try to compete with the other parent by buying/spending more on the children.  Make a budget and stick to it.  Chances are your finances are in a bit of a strain from the divorce anyway and now is not the time to max out your credit cards.
  8. Ask for help – Talk to your family, friends, counselors or other support system.  Remember you are not alone.
  9. Be realistic – Do not be seduced by the idea of a “Norman Rockwell” Christmas or other idealized family holiday.  People make themselves crazy trying to make everything perfect.  It is the whole premise for the classic “Christmas Vacation” movie.
  10. Take it easy, one day at a time – It will get easier.  It will hurt less.  Right now just focus on one thing at a time.

This is a time to be thankful for our blessings not to focus on what we do not have.  Rather than focus on the pain of divorce, concentrate on positive things.  Even small things, a great meal, a joke shared with family and friends, or just some quiet time away can create a better perspective and brighter holiday.

Photo courtesy of Louise Docker