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Divorce: Before, During, and After the Holidays

Divorce and the Holidays

As a young boy, following my parents’ divorce, I recall having to spend half of Thanksgiving with one side of my family and then leaving to go spend the second half of the day with the other side of my family. This was repeated on Christmas, as well as other significant holidays throughout the year. It wasn’t easy but that was the way it was “supposed to be”.

When a couple chooses divorce mediation as a way to formulate a divorce agreement, they can choose any plan or agreement they want! The beauty of mediation is it is a process of self-determination: there are no lawyers, judges or courts, formulating and dictating a plan for you. You create your own “supposed to be”.

The busiest time of year for divorce attorneys is often around the holidays.

Unfortunately, the holidays can bring out conflict in many family situations. We have all experienced that. But there are ways this can be avoided and should be avoided: especially when children are involved. When divorced or divorcing parents and couples disagree, the first thing they often do is call their attorneys. This should be the last thing a parent does. Divorce mediation provides creative alternatives for families. For example, a couple may choose to alternate years in terms of custody and visitation of the children, on various holidays.  I recently mediated an agreement where the couple will actually meet in a neutral location for a holiday dinner, with the children. It is the greatest gift a child can receive. In traditional divorce litigation, this is highly unlikely to occur. So much animosity and miscommunication is created through a litigated divorce, parents may not be able to imagine doing such a thing. It is possible. With mediation, anything is possible.

Mediation is available before, during and after the divorce process takes place.

The holidays are not the time of year a person wants to “deal with” or address issues of divorce. But unfortunately issues arise. Mediation is a process that is available at any time. Not only during the initial steps of a divorce but also during or after a divorce is finalized. For example, if disagreements or an inability to communication takes place during the holidays, mediation may be a way to immediately resolve those disputes. The resolution can be applied in present holidays as well as holidays to come; even if the couple is already divorced.

I also frequently meet with couples in the midst of an on-going, expensive, adversarial divorce setting, where the traditional “two attorney process”, is taking place.  And there seems to be no end in sight. Couples can opt out of this type of situation at any time and begin mediation. In fact this is a method used and recommended by courts in nearly every state. And the mediation will proceed until the divorce or conflict is complete.

Is there ever a better time to begin divorce mediation?

Experts agree three of the most emotionally difficult times in a person’s life are the death of a loved one, moving from one’s home and experiencing divorce. Mediation allows divorce to be less painful and as stressed throughout this article, particularly so for children and families. Do the feelings of joy and love associated with the holidays directly contradict the feelings of pain and sadness associated with divorce? Most people agree that they do. But regardless of the season, mediation leads to resolution. Perhaps there is never a good time to get divorced. But when the time has arrived, choose the less of two evils by agreeing to address the challenges yourselves, with the help of a mediator, rather than have the courts decide for you.

What is mediation? How does it work and how long does it take?

One of the most common comments I hear in my mediation practice is “We didn’t know we can do that”. But that is what mediation is. Over three or four two hour sessions, we work together to come up with a plan that works for everyone. We create a visualization centered on the best outcome for your children and family. The entire process from beginning to end can be as short as 2-3 weeks. (Note in some courts there is an additional 90 day waiting period following the filing of the final mediated agreement.)

I am dedicated to assisting you find a solution and create a future beneficial to you and your loved ones. Let mediation help keep the joy in this and many holiday seasons to come. Have questions? Get in touch for a free consultation.