The holiday season is going to be a heated one if you are recently divorced – and if you let it be. The truth is that the holidays will feel more stressful for newly divorced spouses, but it is also true that there are ways to mitigate and alleviate that stress. To help you enjoy the season as much as possible, our attorneys from Wisselman, Harounian & Associates, P.C. have offered here some advice about maintaining harmony over the holidays.
Careful Holiday Budgeting
Joseph J. Bracconier III, Esq. suggests that you start your holidays by budgeting accordingly. There is no additional child support for holiday gifts. If there is a divorce already pending, the Court will not require your spouse to contribute to any gifts you purchase for the children. If you are paying child support, you will need to purchase the children's gifts on your own in addition to what you’re paying in child support because there is no gift credit to reduce your support obligations. Under no circumstances should either party discuss these issues with the children, though.
Health & Safety Concerns for the 2020 Holidays
Derrick A. Rubin, Esq. would like you to think about safety this holiday season. With health and safety concerns surrounding COVID-19, it is advisable to establish a “COVID-19 Co-Parenting Clause” for issues of visitation and holiday gatherings to avoid jeopardizing the health and safety of the child(ren). Included in this clause would be an agreement that both spouses/parents comply with CDC guidelines and Governor Cuomo’s New York State Executive Orders regarding safety measures. The latest Restrictive Executive Order regarding family or other gatherings is limited to only 10 people and summarized as follows:
“Indoor and outdoor gatherings at private residences will be limited to no more than 10 people. The limit will be implemented due to the recent prevalence of COVID spread resulting from small indoor gatherings including Halloween parties. These gatherings have become a major cause of cluster activity across the state. Further, this public health measure brings New York State in line with neighboring states including Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island.”
If there are any issues and disagreements, address them now, before the holiday commences.
One of the legal benefits of COVID-19 has been that the Courts are much more accessible due to virtual conferences, particularly in cases where an emergency order is required. Prior to the pandemic, if you were seeking emergency relief, such as one party was not complying with pre-arranged parenting time for a holiday, an attorney would need to prepare and file an emergency Order to Show Cause, run it over to Court, spend considerable time having all the parties meet before the Judge, and then for the Judge to render a decision. Now, if there is an issue, our office can simply call the court, request a Zoom conference with the attorneys, parties, and the Judge, which allows the matter to be addressed by the court in less than an hour in many circumstances.
Plan Ahead for Parental Access
Lloyd C. Rosen. Esq. wants you to do what you can to avoid the Christmas rush! There is always an increase in disputes over parental access and visitation to take place during the holiday season. If there is any doubt that you and your ex have an agreement in place regarding the days and times for parental access with the children, contact your attorney right away so they can try to work out an agreement in advance of the holidays.
Parenting Time for the Other Holidays
Jordan Trager, Esq. says that written parenting schedules are a must. If you have not worked out a written parenting schedule with your ex for the December break (and all of the holidays for the year), the time to do so is now. Where will the children be spending Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day, and all of the other days of the December break when the children are off from school? If you have not worked this out with your ex yet, it may take some time to get this in front of a judge, assuming it is not deemed an emergency situation. Do not wait until the last minute.
Children First – Always
Amanda Rose Green, Esq. encourages you to always prioritize your children’s best interests. When considering the upcoming holidays, remember to put the children first! Try to work out scheduling issues and any disagreements ahead of time and out of the presence of the children so that they can be resolved without involving the children. Of utmost importance is that they can enjoy peace and harmony during their holiday season, even when you and your spouse might be feeling the turmoil of a fresh or ongoing divorce.
All of us from Wisselman, Harounian & Associates, P.C. wish the happiest holidays to you and yours. Keep in mind these tips from our attorneys, and we are sure you can get through the holiday season without any added stress. If you require help with your divorce or family law case, though, and you live on Long Island, please give us a ring at (516) 406-8500 and plan a no-cost consultation with our team.