If you have children and are currently going through the divorce process or have been recently divorced, you have probably already realized that the holidays as you’ve come to know them will be different from now on. The Thanksgiving holiday, as family-centered as it is, is one of the most difficult holidays to get through if you are just getting used to this idea. What follows is a brief overview of custody issues during the holidays and some tips on getting through the Thanksgiving holiday this year.
As divorce attorneys, we know that child custody and visitation matters are often the most difficult and emotional aspect of any divorce where minor children are involved. In California, the Courts recognize that is typically in a child’s best interest to have frequent and continuing contact with both of their parents, so unless there is good reason otherwise (including the age of the child/ren, etc.), the Court often aims to have parents share custody of their children as near equal as possible. Even if the regular custody or visitation schedule is not 50/50, the Court may still allocate time on the holidays equally between parents.
Although there are other options for splitting holidays between parents, most often we see alternating holiday schedules by which one parent has the child/ren on a holiday during even years and the other parent has the child/ren on that holiday during odd years. While parents are always welcome to make custodial agreements amongst themselves, when working out a custodial sharing schedule, it is typically best to include specifics as to holidays, etc. in order to avoid conflict between parents down the road.
If your current custodial schedule follows the alternating even/odd holiday schedule and you have been awarded Thanksgiving during odd years, this means you may not get to see your child/ren on the Thanksgiving holiday this year. We’re not saying that this reality is ever going to be easy, but if it is the first holiday you are spending without your children, it is likely going to be the most difficult yet.
Some tips for coping:
- First and foremost, remember that you can still celebrate Thanksgiving with your child/ren on a different day! This will allow you to experience all of your favorite traditions with the kiddos. Plus, we can’t imagine that any child would complain about being able to enjoy two Thanksgiving dinners!
- Even if it is difficult for you to process this new reality, do your best not to let your child/ren see that you are upset. Try to keep focused on keeping things as normal as possible for them.
- Call your children the day of. Even better, try Skype or Face Time! Most custody orders allow for parents and children to contact each other during times that they are apart. Even though you may not be physically present, being able to speak with your child/ren on the day of the holiday will likely make you feel better, and your child/ren will appreciate knowing that you are thinking of them.
- Don’t fly completely solo if you don’t have your kids! Keep yourself busy with friends or other family on the day of. Maybe even take a trip somewhere that you couldn’t afford to take if you had your kids with you.
- Finally, divorce is difficult whether it’s fresh or you’ve been divorced for several years already. Sometimes people focus so much on their children that they forget about themselves. It’s a stressful time, so don’t forget to treat yourself every once in a while. You deserve it!
As always, if you are thinking of filing for divorce, or you are already going through a divorce with custody or visitation issues, it is important that you are represented by competent and experienced legal counsel. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Nancy J. Bickford practice exclusively in the area of family law and have years of experience handling custody and visitation cases, whether highly amicable or very litigious, and everything in between.
Please contact us if you are considering divorce from your spouse, a legal separation, or have questions regarding child custody and visitation. Nancy J. Bickford is the only Certified Family Law Specialist (CFLS) in San Diego County who is also a licensed Certified Public Accountant (CPA) with a Master of Business Administration (MBA). Don’t settle for less when determining your rights. Call 858-793-8884 in Del Mar, Carmel Valley, North County or San Diego.