A recent marriage separation during the holidays can be stressful for all parties, especially the children. When it comes to Thanksgiving, for example, the whole family may be accustomed to one relative’s home for one meal, then traveling to another for a second meal. In other cases, the family may typically stay at home and have a set of traditions to follow. Once a couple separates, the first holidays can get confusing or feel awkward when those traditions are broken. They can also unwittingly set a precedent for all future holidays to come. If there is already a separation agreement in place that was drawn up by a Maryland child custody attorney, this is the time for both parties to abide by it.
For couples who have children but no separation agreement, the division of holidays can be especially stressful. Couples who can agree on their own how to divvy up the time with the kids on these special days will be one step ahead when it comes time to draw up a separation agreement, get a divorce or determine child custody and visitation.
• While it may be out of the question for separated adults to celebrate Thanksgiving together, the alternative is to spend it apart. There are some basic ground rules to keep in mind that may help the first holiday after separation to be less difficult on everyone. In the event of a permanent separation and eventual divorce, this could well set a precedent for the future, so choose carefully.
• Agree on a time and place for the children to be picked up and dropped off. It should be relatively convenient for both parties. Make an effort not to be late in picking up or dropping off.
• When there is considerable distance involved, it may be easier to alternate holidays with the children between the two homes, such as Thanksgiving and Christmas.
• Identify a fair time for the transfer so that the children don’t feel caught in the middle or as if they’re being punished. This may vary depending on the child’s age.
• Pay attention to when the children are out of school and try to factor this into the time table.
• Kids may feel funny if there is a split in the day and they are eating two Thanksgiving meals. They may not know when to stop eating, so parents should try to space them out accordingly.
• When possible, try to honor family traditions, such as watching football games together or baking pies or cookies together.
If you live in Maryland and have not yet signed a separation agreement, but you and your spouse are living separate and apart and you are unable to come to an amicable agreement on how to handle holiday time, this may be the time to seek legal advice from a Bethesda lawyer. While the holidays can be difficult for everyone involved, they don’t have to be awful. Keeping a positive attitude and honoring any agreements will make the road a smoother one.