The holiday season can be tough without the added stress related to child custody, visitation, and marital dissolution proceedings which you or a family member may be a party to. Most information you will find searching on these topics in relation to the holidays will generally address topics like “co-parenting” during the holidays and making sure your custody and visitation schedules are clear and set beforehand. These topics and insights are entirely relevant and helpful, but they miss the mark in speaking to the spirit of the “Holiday Season”.
I know your eyes will likely want to roll backwards but the Holiday Season is supposed to be about making amends, giving (materially and emotionally), and hopefully love as well. This is easier said than done and it can be difficult to reconcile given the circumstances which may have led to the immediate family law related disputes you or a family member may be involved with. Importantly, the added stress and potential for acrimony likely has you or your family member’s anxiety and stress boiling over and this is detrimental for all involved.
Furthermore, if you or a family member is involved in a child custody or visitation dispute, your stress is likely impacting the children as well. It makes total sense that you may want your children on that holiday’s eve or morning and that you deserve to have those memories with them – the party you may have a dispute with almost certainly feels the same way. This is aside from where the children may be aware of acrimonious disputes between the family related to holiday visitation and custody which will be confusing for them and difficult as well.
What is important to note though is that where there has been acrimony surrounding those events, the children likely will remember that more than spending the holiday with a particular family member and/or splitting the holidays between the two. Their memories aren’t going to be of that holiday eve or morning together but rather the stress related to the tug-of-war that hopefully can be avoided occurring by this writing’s appeal to the “Holiday Spirit”. This may also help you improve your memories of these events as well by reducing the friction and stress which may come from attempting to wrangle such a dispute with the other added stress factors of the season and end of year.
If you have not already obtained or set out a clear visitation and custody schedule prior to the holiday season, it is not an ideal time to attempt to do so now. If you’re involved in a divorce and in a running dispute, it may be the best course of action to table any such disputes temporarily and to hopefully relax and have some time to reset – you can always renew this matter as the new year begins but take a break for yourself if you can. This will likely lead to an improvement for your own experience and that of the people around you as well.
I know it may seem antithetical to let holiday time go to someone else or to relax issues you have with another party just because it is the holidays but to some extent, that’s exactly what the Holiday Spirit is supposed to be about. This is the season to make the best of what you can with your friends and family, to forgive or let go minor grievances, and to maybe hold your response when your old rickety uncle says something at family dinner that would be grounds for a greater repost. You, your family members, and everyone else would prefer to have this period be as relaxing and fun as it can be and not marred by outside events that have been brought it.
I hope this serves to provide some food for thought in terms of how to deal with these issues during the Holiday Season. I understand that appealing to reconciliation, giving, love, and forgiveness where one party may not be acting in good faith or is fudging the agreement can be cause for rage and exasperation. However, in doing so, you will ultimately be feeding into a cycle where the likelihood of you getting exactly what you “want” is not only low but also going to drive you mad as well.
Take this opportunity to make amends where you can, let small slights pass, and attempt to focus on the better aspects of what the holidays are supposed to encapsulate. Don’t allow yourself to get brought into a cycle of tit-for-tat disputes or major blow-ups during this time. You can always renew your disputes and press them later, but for just this relatively small block of time, think of yourself, your family, your friends, and do your best to focus on the positive aspects of those relations and take the time you still have to enjoy their company and appreciate the positive things instead of getting bogged down by all the negative aspects of family law disputes.