Attorney, Cordell & Cordell
In an earlier article on divorce, I outlined how to deal with two common holiday parenting time situations: parenting time has not yet been resolved and the first holiday season as a divorced couple.
This article will address dealing with an outdated parenting schedule that is no longer realistic for your family.
Times change, people change, and children’s needs and desires change. If the holiday parenting time schedule you entered into when your kids were toddlers just no longer works for teenagers, but your former spouse doesn’t want to change anything, you need to take action.
Try to get to the heart of her stubbornness. Does she really want time with the children on Christmas Day to spite you? Or is Christmas Day the only day her parents are in town, and the only day the children will see their grandparents during the holiday?
Try to find the root of her requests and be creative to work out a schedule that will allow both of you to enjoy quality time with the kids.
Quality time is quality time, no matter what date it is on. If your children are tweens or teens, no longer believe in Santa and have been through several divorced holidays, they might not mind celebrating the holiday on a day other than the actual holiday.
Ask your children how they would like to spend the holidays in a no-pressure way. Never ask them to choose one parent over the other.
If your ex will not agree to any reasonable schedule, petition the court for relief. In most states, the children getting older is not enough of a change in circumstances to warrant a modification in the custodial arrangement entirely but may be enough to get you in front of the judge on a holiday parenting time schedule.
If judicial relief is not available, working with alternative dispute resolution specialists, such as a mediator or parenting time coordinator, may help create a new schedule that works for everyone.
The most important thing you can do when dealing with an uncooperative spouse is to not let your kids know what is going on.
The holidays are a special time for children, and involving them in power struggles or parent disputes will frustrate them and create bad memories that will last for years to come.
Try to make the holidays as smooth and carefree for your children as you can.
Jill A. Duffy is an Associate Attorney in the Troy, Mich., office of Cordell & Cordell. She is licensed to practice in the state of Michigan. Ms. Duffy received her BA in Psychology and Spanish and graduated Magna Cum Laude from Oakland University. She received her Juris Doctor from Michigan State University College of Law and graduated Magna Cum Laude.