Facing Divorce During the Holidays
Many people look forward to the winter holidays as a time to relax and recharge. It is no secret though, that this time of year can also bring unique pressures. If divorce is on your horizon for the coming year, you are especially likely to be under stress. To help you get through the season as peacefully as possible, here are a few tips:
Put Yourself First on Your Holiday Gift List
During the gift-giving season it is tempting to focus on what you need to do for everyone else. That might mean hosting the perfect holiday party or buying the perfect gifts. Maybe it means standing in line for hours and putting down a big chunk of cash to get your child the latest toy craze.
Impending divorce can throw a monkey wrench into all of it. After all, who wants to host a party when you are separating from your co-host? And how can you afford all those perfect gifts or the latest toys when you don’t know how you are going to make ends meet in your new separate household?
Whatever it is that you want to do for others, always remember that the rule is to put on your own oxygen mask first. This is particularly important if you are facing something as difficult as divorce. Only by allowing yourself the gift of self-care can you be truly available to others.
Sometimes taking care of yourself means letting yourself off the hook. Will anything terrible happen if you give yourself permission to skip some of the parties and gift-giving this time around? Instead of maintaining a frenetic pace, look at this period in your life as a temporary time of transition. Let change pave the way for better things to come.
Take Things One Step at a Time
Once divorce looks inevitable, it is usually best to meet with an attorney for an initial consultation as soon as possible. This does not mean, however, that you need to resolve everything all at once. Preserve your sanity by taking things one step at a time. Unless your attorney gives you a reason to hurry things along, you can probably wait to take further steps until after the holidays are over and everything has settled back down again. If you and your spouse are already living in separate households, however, putting some temporary agreements in place as soon as possible will help alleviate stress.
Temporary Support Agreements
One of the most stressful parts of separating is facing the reality of living on one income instead of two—and the holidays are no time to add more financial stress. If your spouse is the high earner in your marriage and you cannot get by without their income, get a temporary support agreement in place as soon as possible. Temporary support should allow each spouse to maintain their current standard of living to the greatest extent possible during the divorce process. Permanent support can be calculated later after all circumstances have been taken into account.
Temporary Parenting Agreements
If you have children, put a temporary parenting schedule in place for the holidays. You can be as creative as you like with a temporary plan without locking anything in for the long term. Focusing on peaceful coparenting can be the best holiday gift you ever give your children.
Make a New Year’s Resolution to Consider Mediation
If you and your soon-to-be ex are struggling with even temporary agreements, a mediator can help you work these out. Financial and parenting agreements are essential. As a last resort, you can ask a court to put temporary orders in place.
When you are ready to work on more permanent agreements, be sure to give mediation a fair chance, especially for your parenting disputes. Again and again, research has shown that it is not divorce itself that is harmful to children, but the high levels of conflict between parents that divorce often brings. Parents who are willing to work collaboratively can prevent many potential negative consequences for children.
Make a New Year’s resolution to learn about mediation and approach the divorce process with respect and consideration. After the New Year, we will review some of the benefits of mediation for divorce and parenting disputes. We will also talk about how to tell if mediation is right for you, and how to prepare for mediation.
If the time is right for you to talk to a family mediator now, you don’t have to wait. Call us today for your initial consultation.