Proper Planning in 2010 Best Gift Divorced Parents Can Give Children

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January, just following the holidays, many parents considering divorce will begin the process. How merry and bright their 2010 holidays will be is dependent upon how well they develop their parenting plans.

James R. Galvin

The greatest gift you can give your child in 2010 and beyond is to love your children more than you hate your spouse and work cooperatively with the other parent to co-parent your children

Statistics will show the number of divorced parents that turn to the court system to settle holiday custody plans increase in the month of December. However, with proper planning, and an amicable relationship among the parents, the holiday season for divorced families can be merry and bright.

“Co-parenting is one the most important areas of the divorce process,” says James R. Galvin, a partner with Schiller DuCanto & Fleck, the nation’s number one ranked family law firm. “A well thought out parenting plan is just as critical as the parents being harmonious during the heightened stress of the holidays,” he advises.

Over 30 years in practice, Galvin has seen some of the best and worst situations of how divorcing families experience the holiday season. “Oftentimes without knowing it, parents can put children in the middle and even discourage children from seeing the other parent,” he notes. “The reality is children need both parents.”

In many traditional divorces the court establishes a schedule which usually includes one day with one parent and another day with another parent. According to Galvin, “Parenting plans or child custody arrangements can fail if the plan has been imposed by a judge rather than embraced by the parents.”

For spouses who are contemplating a divorce, there is a solution. Galvin offers clients an alternative to traditional court proceedings. The practice is known as collaborative law or collaborative divorce and fully addresses the needs of the children and the parents. The process encompasses a team approach with parents working together with their own collaborative lawyer, in addition to a mental health professional, who helps determine what is best for the children. “With the help of specialized professionals and a focus on solutions versus blame, parents create a workable parenting plan that allows them to effectively co-parent children,” adds Galvin.

Oftentimes, Galvin says the adherence to such plans is greater because the parents have a vested interest in the process. “The family can address its unique situations and traditions rather than allowing a judge to develop a plan that is driven by the general rule of law that applies to everyone.”

One of the more unique holiday plans Galvin has seen is a couple in collaboration were caught up in a power struggle over who got to spend Christmas morning and day with the children. With the help of the collaborative team the parents were able to focus on the importance of honoring the children's tradition rather than fight over who would be with the children on Christmas morning. Traditionally, the family opened presents in their home and then went to the wife’s parents’ home for a meal and to play with all their cousins. In collaboration, the couple agreed it was in the children’s best interests to maintain that tradition and the ex-husband would be included in the festivities for the next few years while the children were still young rather than alternating holidays and depriving their children of something that they looked forward to.

This type of arrangement is in contrast to what can happen if parents do not communicate. For example, if parents cannot agree on how to divide time with their children over holidays, it is common for a Judge to try to give everyone a little something and order alternating holidays year to year which often results in tradition and the holidays being less enjoyable for the children in order to satisfy the parents’ demands.

With more than half of the marriages in the United States ending in divorce, there is no doubt Collaborative Law is something that could help parents minimize the damage of divorce on children. January is the month when most parents begin divorce proceedings. “The greatest gift you can give your child in 2010 and beyond is to love your children more than you hate your spouse and work cooperatively with the other parent to co-parent your children,” advises Galvin.

For an overview on the collaborative divorce process, Schiller, DuCanto & Fleck has prepared a downloadable brochure “Maintaining Dignity in the Face of Divorce.” The firm also offers an email newsletter that provides valuable information on all aspects of family law. Subscribe today.

About Schiller DuCanto & Fleck
Schiller DuCanto & Fleck LLP works with clients using a team approach to achieve the best possible results for those going through divorce and family transitions. The firm provides the traditional litigation representation of clients as well as its department focusing on collaborative law. The firm is the largest family law practice in the U.S and provides the most comprehensive legal resources available in this sensitive yet complex area of practice. Schiller DuCanto & Fleck LLP has offices in Chicago, Lake Forest and Wheaton, Illinois.

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Elizabeth Ferris

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