Planning Tips for Stress Free Holidays

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Now is the time for parents facing separation or divorce to be empowered to find joy in the holidays through proper planning advises Schiller DuCanto & Fleck family and divorce attorney Erika N. Walsh.

Transitions are difficult for everyone, including the children, but a fair plan will allow everyone to take advantage of time together and to make the best of it,

A good plan is like a road map and although families facing separation or divorce may be traveling different routes this holiday season, family law attorney Erika Walsh, a partner, at Schiller DuCanto & Fleck, LLP, in Wheaton, Illinois says it is possible to find joy in the holiday season if parents take the time now to plan properly.

To develop that plan a family and divorce law attorney can work with parents, whether separated or in the process of divorce, to arrange for temporary financial support and avoid last minute appearances in family court. Walsh, who is experienced in helping divorcing families develop plans that can reduce the stress often associated with divorce and the holidays, says the greatest benefit for both parents and children is to know what is coming and how the holidays will be celebrated. “Transitions are difficult for everyone, including the children, but a fair plan will allow everyone to take advantage of time together and to make the best of it,” notes Walsh.

In the six years practicing as a family lawyer with the nation’s leading matrimonial law firm, Walsh says her experience has shown her the best way to develop a holiday plan is to:

Be creative and consider new traditions.
Yes, things will be different, she acknowledges. Different is hard but it doesn’t have to be horrible. It’s important to establish a new normal for the family, advises Walsh. The reality is you are divorcing. Once you establish the new normal everyone settles into it and will become comfortable with it, she adds. The plan could call for Mom to get the kids one year for Thanksgiving and for Dad to have them next year. That doesn’t mean you can’t have Thanksgiving with your kids each year, she says. Maybe in alternate years, you have Thanksgiving on Friday instead of Thursday. You still can celebrate and have that family time and create memories. In fact, it can be a bonus for the kids - they get two Thanksgivings. “It’s different and it requires adjustments but change doesn’t have to be bad,” she notes.

Develop a budget.
Because divorce can cause such acrimony sometimes people act badly during divorce proceedings and one spouse may find the credit card is being denied or the checking account is running low. Walsh says the best thing for both parents is to work out a budget well in advance of the holidays so that temporary support issues can be resolved by agreement or by hearing before the crush of the holidays. While gifts are important, the best gift you can give your children is the gift of time and a stress free holiday without escalated conflict.

Pay attention to your emotions.
Resist the urge to get into a tug of war. Oftentimes it’s Christmas morning that causes the greatest power struggle. Seldom is it for the kids’ benefit. It’s more about the ongoing struggle between the parents. “A parent can become so entrenched in their position they don’t realize they contribute to their own acrimony,” Walsh has observed. “If parents can focus on the most important goal for the holiday and manage their emotions, it is better for the family as a whole.”

Focus on finding joy in the holidays.
There is still joy to be had. Making it great for the kids will also make it better for you. When you know in advance your kids will be with their other parent you can make plans for yourself and plan to be with friends and other family members so you are not sitting home alone on Christmas Eve. Knowing in advance can you can fill that void, she adds.

The holidays require adjustment, but change doesn’t have to be bad. Planning empowers you to find the joy in the holiday during and after a divorce, and there’s no reason not to plan,” adds Walsh. Christmas falls on the same day each year yet it is not uncommon to see family lawyers and their clients appearing before a judge on December 23rd. “This creates a great deal of emotional turmoil that can be easily prevented if the parents are proactive and develop a plan in advance of the holidays,” she concludes. The earlier the better and now is not too late.

Erika N. Walsh is a family and divorce law attorney experienced in all aspects of family law, including child custody and visitation, child support, divorce, maintenance, property characterization and division, and prenuptial agreements in complex family law matters. She can be reached at (630) 784-7412 or ewalsh(at)sdflaw(dot)com. Schiller, DuCanto & Fleck has been recognized as the largest matrimonial law practice in the United States. Its lawyers counsel clients with a team approach to achieve optimum results for individuals who face marriage dissolutions and other family transitions. More information can be found at:


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Elizabeth Ferris

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