By Anne Shale   |   November 14th, 2009

tipsxmas.jpgAs we are now into the month of November, it is not too early for divorced and divorcing parents to look ahead to the upcoming Christmas Holiday.  Here are some “tips” regarding the “nuts and bolts” of handling the Christmas holiday season.

  1. Read and examine the Parenting Time Schedule for your particular County which should be attached as part of your Final Decree or Court Judgment.  The Domestic Relations Court and Juvenile Court of each County have differing schedules. If your parenting time schedule has been lost or misplaced, you can obtain a replacement from your attorney’s office or the clerk where your order was filed.For example, Montgomery County, Ohio, has the following provision as to the Christmas Break:

    In all even-numbered years, the Mother shall have the children from 9:00 a.m. the day after school recesses (or 9:00 a.m. on December 20 if the children are not in school), until 9:00 p.m. December 24, and the Father shall have the children from 9:00 p.m. December 24 through 6:00 p.m. January 1.  In odd-numbered years, the reverse shall apply.

    And, Greene County, Ohio, has the following provision as to Christmas Break:

    In all even-numbered years, the Mother shall have the children from 9:00 a.m. the day after school recesses until 12:00 noon December 26, and the Father shall have the children from 12:00 noon December 26 through 6:00 p.m. the day before school resumes.  In all odd-numbered years, the reverse schedule shall apply.

  2. Plan your Christmas Schedule with family members according to the Parenting Time Schedule that is in place for you.  For example, if you are to have the children from December 20 to December 24 (Montgomery County, Ohio),  do not invite your parents or extended family members to your home to celebrate Christmas with you and the children on December 25 and expect your former spouse or estranged spouse to agree to your request to have the children on Christmas Day.
  3. Remember that children truly are resilient!  Christmas Eve does not have to be celebrated on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day does not have to be celebrated on December 25 of each year.  You and your children are free to celebrate the holiday when you have the children in your care and custody… is “okay”  to celebrate the holiday early, and it is entirely acceptable to celebrate the holiday “after” the holiday.  You merely say to the children and the relatives…..this is Father’s year to have the children for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day so I am inviting you to celebrate the Christmas holiday on December 26 or even December 27.
  4. If you have extended family members that absolutely can not comply with your Parenting Time Schedule for a given year, reach out to the ex-spouse or the estranged spouse to see if he or she would be willing to trade visitation time so that the children do not miss visitation with grandparents and/or extended family.Example: Due to my parents’ work schedules, they can not arrive in Dayton before December 26. You are scheduled to have the children from December 26th through the first of the year.  Would you be willing to have visitation with the children for this year from December 20 through December 25 so that my parents could have time with the children the latter part of the Christmas holiday period.
  5. Treat your former spouse and/or your estranged spouse with respect and kindness (if at all possible!).  You are much more likely to obtain compromise and flexibility in parenting time schedules if you are open and willing to compromise and adapt to change.
  6. Assume that your children are your first priority and that their happiness and well-being is of paramount importance.  This may remove the battle over whether Wife “wins” or whether Husband “wins” in visitation matters.
  7. If you anticipate there is going to be a “problem” with parenting time this year,   there is little time to wait to file a motion with the Court to seek its intervention. Such a motion would need to be filed immediately to try to secure a hearing date before the holiday.

In my opinion, there are really no “winners” in divorce proceedings…..a family unit has been lost!  In the best of situations, the parents of the children of divorce will cooperate with one another to achieve a workable parenting time schedule to meet the needs of the minor children of the parties.

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Anne ShaleAbout The Author: Anne Shale
Anne Shale is of counsel to Dayton, Ohio, law firm, Holzfaster, Cecil, McKnight & Mues. She is a former registered nurse and concentrates her practice in Family Law and Divorce cases.

Planning Parenting Time for the Holidays – Tips to Follow

9 thoughts on “Planning Parenting Time for the Holidays – Tips to Follow

  • November 14, 2009 at 12:22 pm

    Great advice. I may do a teleseminar on the topic this month. Anyone want to participate?

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  • Donna Ferber
    November 16, 2009 at 6:36 pm

    Children, Divorce and the Holidays: Tips for Reducing Stress

    As a psychotherapist working with families experiencing divorce, I offer these thoughts regarding the holidays.

      1. Money, gifts, sweets and indulging don’t “make up” for anything. Your child is going to have TWO Christmases. No need to feel guilty. Most kids say the dual holidays are the best thing about being a divorced kid.

      2. If possible, make your plans with your ex-spouse ahead of time and stick to them. Let the kids know where they will be and when. It helps them feel in control. Let them make only age appropriate decisions. A good rule of thumb: if it is not a decision you would let your children make while you were married, then don’t let them make it now. Let your kids be kids.

      3. Be flexible. No, this is not a contradiction of #2. It means that S—T happens. So if your ex is two hours late because of an ice storm or because cousin Joey showed up late, try to let it go.

      4. Keep your anger, resentment, annoyance, disgust about your ex, his sports car, his girlfriend, his family, to yourself. Remember, your kids are part of both of you and when you slam him, your child feels slammed as well.

      5. Do not make your children responsible for your happiness. “Go have a goodtime with Dad in Jamaica, while I sit here miserable and all alone,” only breeds resentment and guilt in your child.

      6. Don’t compete. If he can afford more than you – fine. Rather than resenting his/her father, appreciate that your child can experience things you can’t buy him. Don’t overspend to keep up. Make memories by doing fun things together – bake cookies, read a Christmas story, build a snowman. Money doesnot buy love.

      7. The new girlfriend/boyfriend cannot and will not take your place. Children are unbelievably loyal. They can love many people, but the title and honor of parent is yours and will be only yours, forever. Relax. Deal with your jealousy without making your kid responsible for your feeling threatened. This is simply not the job of the child.

      8. Divorce is the severing of the adult relationship and should not be the termination of the parent-child relationship, no matter how much you really can’t stand him/her. If your child is not in harm’s way, the relationship needs to continue. This is the CHILD’s right. If you really feel the child is in danger, then get a lawyer, prove it and have supervised visitation. Never keep a child from being with a parent based on your own feelings!

      9 Lastly, remember that you are the adult. Suck up your anger toward your ex and make the holidays wonderful for your kids.

    Adapted from Ex-Wife to Exceptional Life: A Woman’s Journey through Divorce © Donna F. Ferber, LPC, LADC 2005, 2009.

  • November 16, 2009 at 8:33 pm

    Thanks for your GREAT comments! I look forward to reading more of your sage advice in the weeks to come. Very informative and helpful. I hope our blog readers check your website and books, too.
    Robert “Chip” Mues

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  • February 15, 2010 at 9:36 pm

    Don’t give into tantrums, you are only making the next one bigger when you do.

    Talk to your children with respect. and they will talk with respect.

    Limit televission time, and don’t let them have a T.V. in their room. Kids withdrawl from the family early enough and comunication is a must.

    Talk to your kids about sex and drugs. most kids experiment out of curiosity, if they know what it is about, they will more then likely not try it as early.

    Always punish lieing more severly then telling the truth. That away the kids know that even though they get into trouble, it is better to admit what they have done rather then hide it or keep it a secret.

    Make kids do chorers to teach them that in a family, every member is important and that every one has to work togeather to make it a good family unit.
    It also teaches a kid responsibility.

    Teach your children to have compassion for other people.
    We are entirely to desensitized now days.

    Correct your child imedietly, you have less of a chance to do it out of anger, and you definately wont forget to punish them.

    Teach your children early what it means to be a man / woman. So they know what will be expected of them.

    Don’t bail your kids out of trouble, or make excuses for them. Teach them that they must take responsibility for what they do. That means appologizing and making things right. with the other person.

    Teach by example. Make sure your children see you being polite, and kind and compassionate and doing what is right.

    Make kids do their home work when they first get home this teaches them that work comes first and play is to be done in their spare time.

    Keep Your children busy. bored kids tend to get into more trouble.

    Make sure when you have to be away from your child, you leave them with adiquate supervision.

    Make sure you spend good quality time with your children. Talk to them and really get to know how they think. when they need to express anger allow them to do so. they will be more likely to come to you when some thing is bothering them.

    Teach your child the value of volunteering. It builds thier self worth.

    Always remember to tell your child when they have done well. weather it be on a drawing or were really well behaived. Kids love to be bragged about. and it encourages good behavior and work.

    Listen to your child, and never make light of what they say. What seems to be a small and unimportant issue, can be a major catastraphy to them.

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