It’s That Time of Year…
For cookie-baking, sleigh riding, fa-la-la-ing fun. But for the newly-divorced or separated parent, it can also be a time of schedule stretching, angry texting, and court order defying stress.
It doesn’t have to be that way, but all too often, it is. And because this time of year is also fraught with judge’s vacations and early court closings, unless you have a true custody emergency (and sometimes not even then), you’re not likely to get much judicial help with your situation until well after the new year.
But almost always, there’s a lot you can do to make the situation better. Some quick ideas to help put a little joy back into the world —for you and your kids:
1. Give a little…or a lot. You may have a court order that says the kids need to be back at 8:00 p.m., and your ex has rolled up with them at 9:15. Again. This is maddening, and no, it’s not ok. But Christmas Eve is probably not the time to finally resolve this issue face-to-face with your ex, with the kids standing behind you in their reindeer jammies. So let it go…for now.
There’ll be time to address it later, in the light of a new year. Of course, if you have a legitimate concern for your kids’ immediate safety, call the police. Then your lawyer. If in doubt about what to give on, ask your attorney, who will likely give you the following advice…
2. Document, document, document. Just because you’re not canceling Christmas over your ex’s behavior doesn’t mean you’re turning a blind eye forever. Always document significant issues concerning your children. Keep records of court violations and conflicts with your ex, so you can make a plan with your attorney on how to deal with them in the new year. Communicate rationally with your ex via email, so your lack of consent on issues is documented. And always compose every voice mail, text and email message as if a judge will eventually read it.
3. Reign in the relatives. I’ll keep this one brief: if you can’t call your ex a moron/tramp/deadbeat in front of your kids, neither can Aunt Thelma. If you expose your kids to people who bad mouth your ex, you’ll ultimately be held responsible for it. By the court first. And eventually, probably by your kids.
The above suggestions require patience and a little self-sacrifice, but can go a long way to creating a more peaceful holiday for your kids. Note that missing from the list is “Eggnog as Coping Strategy.” Which would bring more than one kind of headache come January 2nd.
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