Holiday Problems for Divorced Parents with Children

Illinois Family Law Attorney

Holidays can create stress and issues for any family, but for divorced parents with children, the holidays can be particularly complicated. On top of extra commitments and obligations, making purchases, and blending traditions, there are now issues about how to split up holiday time and what to do about gifts, and hurt and hard feelings abound. The added stresses can make divorced parents even more apt to fight, at a time when it’s particularly important to be civil for their children’s sake and at a time when it is traditional for families to come together.

The compassionate and experienced Illinois family-law attorneys at Wolfe & Stec understand the stresses of divorce and recognize that at holiday time, as well as the rest of the year, your children’s well-being is paramount.  We offer a free initial consultation and will work with you to examine your individual divorce situation and help come up with solutions that are best for you.

Here are some tips to handle holiday problems in a manner that benefits you and your children:

  1. Create a Holiday Custody Schedule
  2. Having a holiday visitation schedule can make life easier because it lays out in advance where the children will be spending each holiday and keeps you from having to continually negotiate and fight with your ex. You and your ex don’t have to be friends, but you can put in the effort to work together to create a holiday schedule. If you can’t come to an agreement, a judge will wind up determining a schedule based on what is in the best interest of the child.

    To make the holiday schedule work, it’s important to agree that the predetermined holiday schedule will always hold true for these holidays and supersede any normal child custody schedule.

    Be aware that some holidays are more difficult to schedule than others since holidays such as Christmas occur on the same day each year, while other holidays such as Thanksgiving may be different.  One option might be to celebrate holidays on a day that is not the official holiday, but may be designated as your family’s day to celebrate, perhaps a day, week or month earlier or later. As long as you do things like include the children in the rituals and make a festive meal, you are still celebrating the holiday.

  3. Get Into the Spirit of the Season
  4. Holidays should be a time of giving, forgiving, fresh starts, and letting go of anger and grudges.  Your children deserve their celebrations even if you feel cheated out of yours. Encourage them to enjoy their time with their other parent.  If you are alone, find someone else who is alone to spend time with, or volunteer at an organization to help those less fortunate – it will make you feel better.

  5. Choose Love Over Materialism
  6. Gifts are often a bone of contention between divorced parents, especially since money is involved, and exes may not have equal finances or may try to outdo each other. You and your ex should attempt to communicate and agree on things such as determining the amount to be spent by each parent and making sure the child isn’t receiving duplicate gifts. If possible, you can still give joint gifts.

    Even if you are short on money, know that your time, attention, and emotional presence are much more important to your children than lavish gifts.  If both parents can be civil and communicate instead of competing, even through a brief email or telephone call, your children will benefit.

  7. Establish traditions with your children.
  8. Even though your current traditions may be different from the past, children can be happy with new rituals.  Talk with your children about which rituals are most important to them; find out what they most want to be retained, what doesn’t matter to them, and what new things would they want to try. You may need to simplify traditions, like cutting back on the amount of decorations, or having a pot-luck this year where each person brings a dish. Focus on creating a bonding opportunity and making a holiday that brings children joy.

  9. Celebrate With Your Children’s Other Parent.
  10. If you are able, do things like setting aside an hour to open up holiday gifts and have breakfast.  Be sure your children understand that this doesn’t mean you are getting back together.

  11. Deal With Your Extended Family.
  12. Work things out in advance with your own extended family and ask for their understandingand help. If you are celebrating with family members who might cause tension, such as bad-mouthing your ex in front of the children, speak to those people in advance and caution them not to.

  13. Be Good to and Take Care of Yourself
  14. Divorce stresses both mind and body, so pay attention to your health. Get rest when you are tired, eat properly, and get regular exercise. Do some things you enjoy to lift your mood and feed your spirit; buy yourself something you’ve been wanting, such as a book or flowers. Think about the good things in your life. Nourish your spirit in whatever way is most meaningful for you.

Put Your Trust In Us — Contact Wolfe & Stec, Ltd. for a Free Consultation.

While the holidays are a particularly difficult time, family law issues can stir up negative emotions for people – pain, sadness, embarrassment, resentment — all year round.  There is help available, and you may find comfort in knowing a lawyer is on your side. The seasoned attorneys at Wolfe & Stec handle all Illinois family law cases with sensitivity, respect, and discretion.

At Wolfe & Stec, Ltd., we made our reputation one client at a time, and we put every ounce of our ability into every case.  There are no ready-made solutions in divorce and family law – every case needs to be considered on its own merit. Our lawyers take the time to delve deeply into the problem and to understand your goals and concerns. Then we develop a legal strategy designed to achieve those objectives.

There is no charge for the first consultation, and we are happy to schedule appointments at our office. Delaying can only complicate your situation and make matters worse.  Call us today for your free consultation at 630-305-0222 or contact our team online.

Attorney Natalie Stec

Natalie M. Stec, born and raised in Illinois, and earned her Bachelor of Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her practice has been concentrated in significant pre and post decree marital and family law cases; including custody, visitation, support, and paternity matters. She has important criminal defense experience in both misdemeanor and felony cases. She is a very dedicated and passionate litigator. [ Attorney Bio ]