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Mediation may resolve newly divorced parents' Turkey Day disputes

Families throughout Illinois are likely making preparations for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday. Whether holiday arrangements involve making grandma's famous turkey stuffing or abiding by other long-held family traditions, this time of year can become complicated for freshly divorced families.

Parents almost always want to do right by their children, but emotions or ongoing disputes can prevent them from making holiday plans or custody arrangements that truly represent their children's best interests. As the holidays approach, divorcing couples should consider collaborating to create a plan that respects the needs of all parties as relates to holiday traditions.

As anyone who has experience with the divorce process knows, issues of custody on holidays can become a source of conflict for all members of the family. This is why it may be beneficial to work through these types of issues in divorce mediation. By going through this process, both parents can voice their opinions while still working toward a mutually-beneficial solution.

The following are some tips from family law observers aimed at divorcing families preparing for the holidays:

  • Listen to your children: Kids should have a say in determining how they will spend their holidays. Of course, younger children might not grasp the gravity of the situation, but it's still valuable to consider their opinion.
  • Limit fights: Try not to make a dispute about holidays affect the children. Children of any age are sensitive to divorce and care for both of their parents, so it's not advisable to put them in the middle of a holiday-related custody dispute.
  • Make a plan: To simplify things, it may be best to clearly spell out which parent will have custody or how custody will be split on each holiday in your divorce settlement. This will likely help prevent further disagreements.
  • Discuss with other family: Other members of the family may have an opinion about holiday arrangements, especially grandparents. It may be best to calmly explain the nature of the arrangements and stress that they were made to benefit the children.

Anytime divorce involves children, the aim should be to create a settlement that protects their needs. By determining custody arrangements on holidays in mediation, parents can work together to provide their children the best holiday experience, rather than having the final decision made by the court.

Source: Sun Sentinel, "Newly divorced angst over holiday plans," Marci Shatzman, Nov. 7, 2012

  • Mediation may be viable option for Illinois families looking to amicably settle complex divorce-related issues. To find out more about our firm's experience helping families through this process, please see our Libertyville divorce mediation page.

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