When you told your children you were getting divorced, you knew it was a given there would be many changes on the horizon. Perhaps, you decided to keep living in the same North Carolina home you shared with your spouse in marriage as a way to lessen your children's stress and maintain structure and routine in their lives.
You may also be determined to keep some of your favorite family traditions while recognizing that, by virtue of the fact your former spouse will no longer be present day-to-day, some aspects of your holiday customs would be different. Hopefully, the two of you were able to amicably devise a new parenting plan. With Thanksgiving and more holidays just around the corner, it might be a good idea to review your court orders.
Low-stress holidays is the goal
The last thing you need is to spend your holidays bickering over child custody and visitation issues. Post-divorce living has a way of impacting even seemingly insignificant aspects of holiday times, such as purchasing gifts and making sure both parents don't buy the same things. Family therapists recommend the ideas that follow to help you keep stress levels to a minimum and also provide resources for support if a problem arises:
- Signed, sealed, delivered: It's crucial to get everything in writing and seek the court's approval. You may think there's no harm in merely chatting with your former spouse about where your kids will spend Thanksgiving, but verbal agreements of this kind have a way of backfiring, big time. Just imagine Thanksgiving morning, as you prepare your feast for your children, having their other parent show up, adamantly stating that you agreed to let them spend the holiday someplace else.
- Keep documents handy: It's typically best to keep hard copy documents of your court orders and to make sure you always have quick access to those files. This way, if there is confusion regarding a particular holiday or who is supposed to have the kids for a certain school vacation or special event, you need only refer to your court orders for clarification.
- Share the holidays: You can all spend Thanksgiving together if you think that's what is best for your children. If you can barely exist in the same room without wanting to engaging in fisticuffs, however, then this option might not be the most viable in your circumstances.
- Split the holidays: There are 24 hours in a day. That means your children can spend half the holiday with you and half with their other parent. If this is feasible (regarding time and distance between homes), it may be an easy way to make sure children have ample time with both parents during the holidays.
The key is to know your rights and make sure whatever your plan is, all those involved clearly understand its terms. Sometimes, life's circumstances necessitate changes in a plan. If the proposed change involves an existing court order, you can't simply make the change without first seeking the court's approval.
If you're unable to resolve a particular problem and you don't want your holidays to be ruined, you can reach out for support from an experienced North Carolina family law attorney who can address the matter in court on your behalf.