Richard E. Fowlks, Attorney at Law

Don't let your Oregon divorce ruin your holidays

If you're currently preparing to navigate the Oregon civil justice system to obtain a divorce, you might be more than a bit concerned about your children's ability to cope with the situation. Even more so, you might be feeling anxious about the holiday season since you know the life changes you're going through will likely have a significant impact on your kids, and on the way you celebrate holidays and special occasions from now on.

Try to remember that getting divorced doesn't make you a bad parent nor does it necessarily mean you can't enjoy the holidays. A key factor to avoiding divorce-related problems during the holiday season is to be thorough in writing the terms of your co-parenting agreement. It's also a good idea to think ahead, and to know what to do if a specific legal problem arises.

The earlier, the better

Waiting until days before Christmas to decide where your children will spend the holiday may not be the best way to go about avoiding divorce-related trouble between you and your co-parent. Many Oregon parents actually incorporate terms into their child custody orders, so all involved parties are clear on which parent gets the kids for which occasions.

A last minute approach is high risk for confusion and for arguing, especially if you or your ex comes up with an idea with which the other disagrees. If you write out terms ahead of time, it leaves less room for dispute down the line.

It's okay to start new customs

Children are typically highly adaptable and resilient. There might be certain family traditions you had when you were married that might not seem as practical now that you're divorced, such as inviting your ex's parents to dinner. You can talk to your kids to determine which customs you wish to maintain. You can also discuss starting some new ones.

Then again, if you're comfortable having your ex in-laws for holiday dinners, that's fine, too. In fact, you and your co-parent might decide to spend certain holidays with the children at the same time, rather than trading off or splitting half-days. If you don't get along well, this might not be the best option for you. However, if you are on peaceful terms, it might make your kids happy to share a holiday with both parents under the same roof.

You can customize your plan

When you make decisions about holidays and special occasions regarding post-divorce child custody issues, remember that you do not have to mirror your arrangement to be exactly like your friend or family member's divorce agreement. The court always has children's best interests in mind. You are free to devise a plan that fits your own needs and goals.

What works for another family might not be a good idea in your situation or vice versa. If your holidays are running less than smoothly because your ex refuses to adhere to the terms of a court order or some other legal problem, it's best to resolve the issue as soon as possible. Many Oregon parents stay closely connected to experienced family law attorneys for just this reason, so they have quick access to support, as needed.

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Richard E. Fowlks, Attorney at Law
1607 N.E. 41st Avenue
Portland, OR 97232

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Phone: 503-505-7941
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