Having a Safe Holiday Season

In Child Custody, Domestic Violence by Elizabeth Stephenson


New Direction Family Law wishes you the happiest of holidays. This season, we hope that you have the opportunity to spend time with loved ones and to genuinely reflect on your life, love, and loss over the past year. That’s all any of us really want: holidays full of joy and forever memories.

Unfortunately, holidays can also truly be incredibly lonely times for some people. When it comes to separation, divorce, and child custody, holidays can be emotionally charged times of bad decisions, conflict, and volatility. It is therefore important to take steps to make sure that you have a safe and emotionally healthy holiday season.

Step 1: Addressing Danger

First and foremost, if there is a history of domestic violence or child abuse, and you believe that you or your children are in danger, seek help. Contact your local domestic violence service provider for advice or to seek shelter, if appropriate. In addition, an attorney can help you obtain a domestic violence protective order (DVPO) or other emergency order to protect yourself, your children, and your home.

Step 2: Establishing Boundaries

Even if there is not a history of violence in your relationship, it is still important to engage in decision-making that is emotionally safe for you and your children. This means to establish boundaries in how you communicate with your former partner, why you communicate, and when you communicate. For some this could mean communicating only emails, while for others it may mean messages through a third party intermediary.

Step 3: Utilize Health Communication and Show Mutual Respect

For example, healthy communication and mutual respect between co-parents is a must. If you are in a position where you directly communicate with your child’s other parent, it is in your child’s interest that you both inform each other of your holiday plans. This creates certainty and cuts down on surprises that certainly lead to anger and hurt feelings. In addition, if the other parent makes a reasonable request, you should consider allowing it because you may get the favor returned.

Step 4: Obtain Custody Orders

Speak with a family law attorney. The clearest way of preempting conflict and surprise is to make sure that you have custody orders that specifies holiday parenting time and also provides for how visitation conflicts should be resolved. If there are not orders in place or if you are interested in modifying an existing order, you should consult with an attorney.

Step 5: Don’t Act in Anger

What we hope you take away from this is to put your children first when it comes to holiday visitation. This means recognizing that your child loves their other parent and that it is in their best interest to have a continuing relationship with a suitable parent. This also means that you should by no means make your child the intermediary or mediator between you and your former partner; nor should you disparage your former partner to your child. On that note, never make child-related holiday decisions out of anger or spite, as this never has good results for your children.

New Direction Family Law

Child custody matters are some of the most tense and heart-wrenching cases we see. At New Direction Family Law, we understand how important your children are to you and will give you the respect and attention you deserve. Our attorneys take great pride in standing by our clients in this time of need. We serve Wake, Johnston, Lee, Harnett, Cumberland, Nash, Granville, Franklin, and Durham counties. Contact our office at (919) 719-3470 to schedule an appointment or reach us online at our website.