Family Law Issues to Avoid This Holiday Season
November is the unofficial start to the holiday season. While many are filled with excitement and joy, others are left worried about their family law issues such as custody, visitation rights and even starting divorce proceedings. As an Illinois resident, it’s important to know your rights as we approach this family-orientated time of year.
The holiday season can be stressful on any family, but it can be even more difficult for divorced parents, their children and other family members. How do you deal with conflict? Can it be avoided altogether? Read on to learn more about common family law issues that occur over the holiday season and possible solutions.
Many couples attempt to put off divorce until after the holiday season for the sake of their children and to avoid telling other family members. This is common, but just as difficult as being honest about the impending divorce.
If you’ve taken the alternative route, here are some tips for discussing the divorce around your family during the holidays:
- Be honest. You don’t need to give away every detail, but lying could cause more issues in the long run. Being upfront also allows you to control the narrative within your family.
- Set boundaries. As we said before, you don’t need to tell your family everything or go into detail about your situation. If it becomes too much, take a step back. Explain to your family you do not wish to discuss the divorce and want to focus on enjoying the holiday.
- Be courteous. If you find yourself around your spouse’s family for some reason, it’s best to not discuss the divorce with them. If they press, tell them you do not want to talk about the divorce at the moment and need to remove yourself from the situation.
But always remember, if you or your children are in danger in any form, never hesitate to leave a high-risk environment immediately. You can even seek councel and advice on getting an Order of Protection.
Custody Agreements/Allocation of Parental Responsibilities
If possible, it’s best to build holiday plans in a custody agreement. If you and your ex spouse live in different cities or states, and travel is difficult, it may be best to arrange the children to be at one house for a certain holiday, and the other for the next. For example, the children spend Thanksgiving with you and Christmas with your ex, and you alternate the following year.
Whatever your family decides to do, clear communication is key. Be specific about the days and times that are included for the holiday, as well as pick up or drop off times. Be realistic about what’s possible, if possible, get input from your children. Try to make this time easy on everyone. Need help on arranging an Allocation of Parental Responsibilities agreement? Learn more here.
Communicating about gifts can also be beneficial. Avoiding duplicate gifts can help reduce any stress of having to return items. Keeping an open line of communication could also allow you to work together on purchasing larger gifts for your children, such as a computer or a new phone.
Sometimes, changes in schedules are inevitable. If there’s a legitimate reason for the party needing to adjust plans, try to be flexible. Obviously, it’s ideal for everything to go as planned, but being adaptable can make things easier on everyone involved. Alternatively, if you’re the one needing to make adjustments to the schedule, try to communicate them as clearly and as soon as possible. Any change to your existing parenting time schedule is called a post-decree modification.
The court may grant a modification without a showing of changed circumstances if the modification is in the child’s best interests and any of the following are proven:
- THE MODIFICATION REFLECTS THE ACTUAL ARRANGEMENT UNDER WHICH THE CHILD HAS BEEN RECEIVING CARE, WITHOUT PARENTAL OBJECTION, FOR THE 6 MONTHS PRECEDING THE FILING OF THE PETITION FOR MODIFICATION, PROVIDED THAT THE ARRANGEMENT IS NOT THE RESULT OF A PARENT’S ACQUIESCENCE RESULTING FROM CIRCUMSTANCES THAT NEGATED THE PARENT’S ABILITY TO GIVE MEANINGFUL CONSENT;
- THE MODIFICATION CONSTITUTES A MINOR MODIFICATION IN THE PARENTING PLAN OR ALLOCATION JUDGMENT;
- THE MODIFICATION IS NECESSARY TO MODIFY AN AGREED PARENTING PLAN OR ALLOCATION JUDGMENT THAT THE COURT WOULD NOT HAVE ORDERED OR APPROVED…HAD THE COURT BEEN AWARE OF THE CIRCUMSTANCES AT THE TIME OF THE ORDER OR APPROVAL; OR
- THE PARTIES AGREE TO THE MODIFICATION.
Parents and Grandparents alike may have questions about their own rights when it comes to seeing your children around the holidays. In the state of Illinois, it is ultimately up to the parent’s discretion to choose who their children have a relationship with or not. If the grandparent or family member wishes to petition for their own visitation rights, they first must prove they had a relationship with the child prior to the divorce. The court can help extend an existing relationship, but it cannot help create a new one.
Co-parenting can be difficult, but if you find ways to work together and create a plan, it can make the holiday season much easier. Sometimes, parents do attempt to defy court orders and make plans on their own. If speaking to the other parent on your own doesn’t help the situation, it may be time to get attorneys involved.
Our award-winning attorneys at Masters Law Group have seen it all and know just how to handle these types of situations. We’re here to help guide you through this difficult time.
If you need help with any family law issues, reach out to us here today.