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Southfield, Mich. – Jessica Woll, managing partner of Woll & Woll, P.C., a Michigan-based divorce and family law practice with a particular expertise in complex family law issues, recently spoke to WWJ 950 all-news radio on holiday survival tips for divorced parents.
Woll stressed the need for parents to put the children first. To learn more from the interview, click here.
In addition to the information Woll provided in the WWJ interview, she adds that in a time when childhood is fleeting, parents have to remain “child-centric” at all times, but especially during the holidays.
“A child’s needs always come first. I remind clients to ask themselves what their child will benefit from most. What will create happy holiday memories? When parents answer these questions as if they were the child, the answer places the child’s needs first,” said Woll. “And yes, this may mean allowing the child to pick out a gift for the other parent at the ex’s expense.”
Woll also stresses the need to be flexible. As children grow, their needs change; a holiday parenting time schedule created when the child was five years old may not be right for the child at fifteen.
“If a judgment of divorce calls for equal parenting time over the winter break and holidays, remember that mathematical equality might not be perfect for each child every year of their life until they reach 18 years of age,” said Woll.
This also translates into ex-couples sharing the children with each other.
“As a divorce attorney for 20 years I have found that young children want nothing more than to spend time with both of their parents at the same time – and this could not be any truer than during the holidays,” said Woll. “If parents can stomach it, try to include the ex in one of the family events or plan a small outing for just the parents and the child.”
This event can be as simple as going to a movie because it provides the togetherness the child wants while minimizing the amount of interaction between the ex-spouses. In addition, this could also be the start of a new family tradition.
“After divorce, children also start a new chapter in their lives. Starting a new tradition may help kids ease the loss they feel as a result of their parents’ separation,” said Woll. “Whether it’s simply reading a special holiday book or taking a family trip, creating new traditions as the children grow can help make the holidays more manageable and enjoyable for all.”
While one parent cannot control the others actions, they can control their own. So, if nothing else, “fake it till you make it”, says Woll.
“The holidays are possibly the worst time to utter even one negative comment about the other parent or his/her family. While many parents are divorced because they have been wronged by their ex, they may have to fake it and shelve their feelings, especially during the holidays,” said Woll. “The children don’t need to be told how badly their mother/father will miss them while they are spending time with the other parent, see their mother/father crying when they leave and hear negative comments about their mom/dad. Instead, children should be told how much fun they will have with their mother/father and his/her family.”
Ample planning and communication can also help ease the holidays with divorced parents and ensure the season goes smoothly for both the parents and children. It may also save parents from scrambling to court last minute to enforce holiday parenting time agreements.
“The goal is to stay out of court. Therefore, planning with the ex several weeks or even months before the holidays arrive and confirming plans in writing can help facilitate this process,” said Woll.
Lastly, divorced parents should make sure they are also being taken care of during the holidays.
“For many, time away from one’s children during the holidays is devastating and can feel terribly wrong and unfair. Parents need to do things to help fill the ‘kid void’ during their absence, such as planning events with friends and family or partaking in activities that are not easy to do when the kids are home”, said Woll.
About Woll & Woll, P.C.
Woll & Woll, P.C. specializes in divorce and family law, including legal separation, post-judgment of divorce matters, removal of domicile actions, stepparent adoption, custody, child support, paternity and other family issues. Learn more here.