Separated Couples, Kids, and the Holidays

In my experience as a family lawyer, I have witnessed quite naturally, some separated couples believe it is fair to have children spend time with the parent that’s outside the home during weekend visitations only. But, based on research and my own experience as a family law attorney in Bergen County and Monmouth County, New Jersey, handling many child custody matters, I believe that this can be harmful to the child’s ability to thrive academically and socially. Studies show children who have a consistent, committed relationship with both parents that are actively present tend to achieve greater in life. However, in order to get to this level, separated parents must develop a strategy that works for everyone. In my view, here are three of the best ways to divide time fairly
between children during a divorce:

Don’t Hoard Their Time During The Holidays
As the holidays swiftly approach, it can be difficult for parents who are newly separated
and going through the divorce process. Understandably so, you expect to spend a vast
majority of time with your children (and vice versa). These are memorable times indeed,
but it is important to think about your spouse also. They desire to spend time with their
children during the holidays also. Work together to develop a schedule that will allow
uninterrupted family time. It could mean solely spending time with children during
Thanksgiving, while your spouse spends time with them on Christmas. Or, you could
arrange a half-day agreement for both holidays. Work together to decide what works
best for your family during the holidays.

Maintain Routines And Include Each Other
Just because you are going through separation doesn’t mean you have to abandon a
routine that was in place while you were married. If your children are accustomed to you
picking them up from school or taking them to their favorite restaurant on the weekends,
I recommend that you continue doing those things. They will appreciate it and it could
potentially strengthen the bond between you and your children. Also, as an experienced
family lawyer, I suggest including the other parent every so often. This helps to maintain
a sense of normalcy with your children.

Schedule Virtual Meetings
On those moments in between weekend visitations, holidays, or other special
occasions, it’s beneficial to have your children meet with the other parent virtually. It
doesn’t have to be an “emergency” conversation either. There may be times when your
children genuinely miss the other parent, but they’re unable to meet with them
physically. Virtual meetings are very helpful in this sense because they provide the
human interaction your children need, it’s convenient, and can be initiated by you (the
parent) or your children.

All in all, it is common to want to spend as much time with your children as possible –
especially during the holidays, during the separation process for divorce. However, you
have to be cognizant of your spouse’s feelings, needs, and wants regarding the
children. Work together to determine a schedule you can stick with that involves
spending equal amounts of time with children. Be creative, consistent, and committed to
the process to ensure an environment that is conducive to their growth and
development.

DISCLAIMER

This article contains general information and opinions from Sheena Burke Williams and is not intended to be a source of legal advice for any purpose. No reader of this article should act or refrain from acting on the basis of information included in this article without seeking legal advice of counsel. Sheena Burke Williams expressly disclaims all liability with respect to actions taken or not taken based on any content in this article.

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