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Divorce and Holidays - Don’t Fowl Out
It's the holiday season and the big question is where do the kids go now that we are separated? The first holidays after separation can be unusually stressful. So many memories rise to the surface during holidays and tend to exaggerate feelings of loss. Caught between trying to hold onto traditions of the past and forging ahead into new and unknown territory, estranged parents are faced with negotiating competing family desires. Do we celebrate as a "family," even if we no longer are? What does mom tell her family that is pressuring her to "bring the kids" to their house? Same goes for dad. Should we ask the kids what they want?
Children will benefit most from parents that agree on priorities, follow simple communication rules, and plan ahead. Communication has two parts: sending and receiving information. We can all speak our piece, but to be heard requires cooperation.
With these simple rules, finding a solution will be easier. So, what's the ideal arrangement? While there is no absolute correct answer, there are several factors worthy of consideration.
The ages and developmental stages of the children are an important factor. Younger children should not be put into the position of choosing and facing divided loyalties. Older children's input may be invited, but should not be decisive. History may be important. Is there a tradition about past holidays at one family's home or another? Keeping life somewhat routine in the beginning may be grounding for the children. At least children should be reassured that holiday events will continue, even if they are a bit different.
How much goodwill exists between parents? A positive and cooperative spirit will prevent minor snags from becoming battles. Part of considering the best interest of the children includes consideration by each parent of the other parent's situation. If parents decide to share holiday events together, goodwill is much more a factor to consider than an arrangement where celebrations are separate.
When all is said and done, the holidays can have positive and significant meaning. Remembering the spirit of the holidays, honoring your personal and family values, reaching out to each other, and recognizing that how you manage the holidays will teach your children an important lesson in relationships, can turn a potential nightmare into joy.
In a summary dissolution, a hearing with the judge is typically not needed. A marriage of five years or less may be ended by summary dissolution, which is a simplified procedure to terminate a marriage in the state of California. With a summary dissolution, a joint petition is filed when 1) either spouse meets the standard residency requirement, 2) the marriage is irretrievably broken down due to irreconcilable differences, 3) the marriage is childless, 4) the wife is not pregnant, 5) neither spouse owns real estate, 6) there are no unpaid debts greater than $4,000, 7) the total value of community property is less than $25,000, 8) neither spouse has separate property (excluding cars and loans) of greater than $25,000, 9) the spouses have reached an agreement regarding the division and distributions of assets and liabilities, 10) both waive their rights to maintenance and appeal; 11) both have read a brochure about summary dissolution and 12) both desire to end the marriage.
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"A Plain English Guide to Protecting Your Children"
Author: Mary L. Boland, Attorney at Law
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