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Family Lawyer Houston: As the old adage goes: you can pick your friends, but you can’t pick your family. This is true to a great extent, however, any person who’s going through a divorce can tell you that your spouse can pick to be no longer be your family member simply by submitting a piece of paper to a court. With a few clicks on a keyboard, your life partner can essentially choose a life without you and in so doing can throw your relationship with your children and your extended family into turmoil.
Focus on your Children
Patience during the holidays is important. The ability to take a step back from the situation you’re going through with your spouse in order to enjoy the time available with your child(ren).
The reality is straightforward: your kids are not going to remember every present you bought them, or where they sat at the Nutcracker with you. What they will remember is how their mom or dad laughed non stop when “A Christmas Story” cycled through for its fifth showing of the day on a cable TV channel. They’ll remember the experience of baking (burning?) some Christmas cookies for Santa Claus.
Unfortunately, kids will also remember if you say some not so nice things about their grandparents. Managing your emotions and how you talk to your kids about what’s happening with you and your spouse will set the tone for how your kids ultimately deal with the breakup of their parents.
It’s unfair and unrealistic for your kids to understand and put into context the legal case between their parents. They don’t know why their parents aren’t living together anymore and they can’t comprehend the emotional context of why the holidays may be especially difficult for both of you.
While it’s not necessary to have a sit down with them, it is necessary for you to provide the stability and consistency that has been lacking since the divorce process began. Nobody is perfect, but divorcing parents can do their best to create a sense of normalcy in a storm of change.
People going through a divorce can often times get caught up in the legal details of their situation and lose sight of what really matters- their kids. The attorneys at the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC would generally advise any person going through a divorce to become less an expert on discovery protocol, and more an expert on discovering how to manage your relationship with your children during this difficult time. The emotional aspects to a divorce are not lost on our attorneys and we are eager to assist you and your family navigate your legal matter successfully.
Who gets the kids for Christmas while my divorce is pending?
For the majority of holiday celebrants that are reading this blog post, Christmas Day is the most important day of the holiday season. It is a time for celebration, family and togetherness.
For those parents going through a divorce, however, all three of the aforementioned attributes of Christmas can be thrown into turmoil due to a divorce. The big question for many divorcing parents is who will get to see the kids on December 25th?
The answer, in true lawyer form, is it depends. If you and your spouse have agreed (or been ordered by a court) to follow what’s known as a standard possession order during the divorce, then one parent will get to see the kids on Christmas.
Christmas under a Standard Possession Order
Spouse #1 will get the kids from 6:00 p.m. on the day school lets out for the holidays until noon on December 28th. Spouse #2 will get the kids for the remainder of the holiday break until 6:00 p.m. on the Sunday before school is back in session. If you’re the parent who had the kids on Thanksgiving, then you will typically not be able to get the kids on Christmas Day.
Christmas When Parents Agree
Another answer to which parent gets to see the kids on Christmas is a little more flexible. If you and your spouse are able to work on a visitation schedule on your own, then it’s possible that a better solution can be reached.
People tend to believe that once a judge signs a piece of paper that the sentences in that document have meaning beyond just words on a page. A court’s order acts merely as a default setting for parties who cannot agree to something different.
However, if spouses can agree to a different arrangement that better suits them, the court is not going to bat an eye. This is the ideal scenario. There are fewer hurt feelings, and both parents feel like they’re having a say in the matter. What’s most important is that the kids are able to share experiences on the most important days of the holiday season with each parent..
What not to do during the holidays while your divorce is pending
Divorce Lawyers in Houston: Any person going through a divorce can tell you that while their case is pending they are not fully able to play by their own rules. The court in which their case is being heard has a set of rules that were either agreed to by the parties or were handed down by the judge that the litigants are expected to follow.
Like it or lump it, the behavior of each spouse is being viewed in the context of these rules. A common question clients of the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC ask our attorneys deal with what not to do during a divorce. For the purposes of this blog post, your humble author has selected three important behaviors to avoid. Those include:
> Do not violate the visitation language of your order
> Resist temptation to voice complaints about your spouse to the kids
> don’t build up resentment towards your spouse
Do not violate the visitation language of your order
Whether you and your spouse have agreed to abide by a standard possession order regarding Christmas Break or have crafted a more personalized schedule, it is vital to follow the rules as they have been laid out.
Trust goes a long way and if you violate the trust of your spouse by not dropping the kids off where you agreed to or failing to communicate a change in plans, you may find yourself in court after Christmas explaining to a judge why you weren’t following the rules. It’s normal to want to see your kids as much a possible during Christmas time. That desire is no excuse to violate court orders.
Resist temptation to voice complaints about your spouse to the kids
This rule can be extended to not asking the kids if your soon to be ex is seeing another person or any other personal inquiry like that. If you haven’t already figured it out the kids are much less concerned than you are about petty differences that you and the other parent are experiencing. They want to enjoy the holidays with you (and the other parent for that matter).
Getting back to point number one- there are most likely rules in place from the court that bar you from using derogatory language in front of the kids about the other party to the divorce. In many instances this extends to your family as well. Remove your ego from the equation and have a sip of apple cider with your kids instead.
Don’t build up resentment towards your spouse
Finally, don’t use the holidays as another opportunity to build up resentment towards your spouse. A useful (corny) saying I use with my own clients is to use the divorce you’re going through to get better- not bitter. If this hasn’t already been shared with you, I’m happy to do so now: your case will most likely not end up with you on the witness stand telling a judge about the shortcomings of your spouse. Most likely it will end in mediation.
A scenario where you won’t even see your spouse as your case essentially comes to an end. With this all being said- the holidays can create an atmosphere of stress and anger if you allow it to. Constantly reminding yourself that you can’t see your kids because of your spouse or taking inventory of each eye roll your spouse gives you when you drop of the kids at the other parents is not going to do your kids or you any good. Use the holidays as a springboard for personal betterment.
Can I spend money on Christmas presents?
As anyone who’s gone through a divorce can attest to, your life during the divorce process is not what you’ve become accustomed to as an adult. You are temporarily ordered in most circumstances to restrain behaviors associated with your kids, your financial endeavors and notably your money. Those factors all come to a head during the Christmas season.
The attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC are often asked by clients whether or not spending money on Christmas gifts is allowed under a temporary restraining order.
To start off with- a temporary restraining order are orders from a court that are in place at the very outset of your divorce case. Often filed concurrently with the Original Petition for Divorce, a temporary restraining order is submitted to a judge for signature while the parties prepare for either a temporary orders hearing or mediation.
After a judge signs the TRO, they are in place for fourteen days and can be extended for another fourteen upon petition by a party. In Harris County, a TRO can take on different forms but a hallmark of any TRO are orders regarding spending community income.
The short answer to the question posited by the title to this blog post- can a divorcing parent spend money on Christmas gifts- is yes.
A TRO or temporary orders will disallow taking on any indebtedness or limiting the ability of the other parent to utilize credit cards. It’s the opinion of this author that these are the most relevant portions of any TRO as they relate to spending money on Christmas gifts.
Generally speaking- as long as you spend within reason there is nothing that explicitly forbids you from spending money to buy your children gifts during the holidays. While it is true that the financial lives of divorcing spouses are restrained due to the divorce action, reasonable expenditures at the local toy store are just fine.
Many, many aspects of a divorce are foreign and unnatural for the parties involved. While the rationale behind the rules are straightforward, the interpretation and ultimate application of the rules can differ from case to case.
It is best to have an experienced law office to represent you and your interests during a divorce. The attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC offer the sort of representation you deserve. Contact our office today to learn more about the services we are able to offer.
How to Save money during the Holidays?
Houston Family Law Attorney: The holidays are expensive. You don’t have to talk to a lawyer to figure that out (though I would argue that it helps). Gifts, decorations, travel and fancy foods can quickly eat into your bank account if you don’t watch out and act carefully when pulling out your credit card.
Being involved in a family law case- whether a divorce, modification or other matter- can make an already difficult situation worse. Spending money on an attorney is a necessary expenditure in most cases but an expenditure nonetheless. How then can you minimize financial stresses during this time of the year while attempting to have yourself a Merry Christmas? Some suggestions include:
> forget the fancy gifts for your children
> limit travel to driving distance
> Christmas is not a competition
Forget the Fancy Gifts for your Children
Despite their protestations to the contrary, your kiddos will not remember if you got them the exact action figure, video game or cell phone that they’ve wanted for months. They just won’t. Opening up a gift is a fleeting memory for most kids and your bang for buck ratio is not very good.
The attorneys at the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC would advise temperance at the toy store this year. Instead- why not plan a Christmas hike with the kids while you’re together this holiday season? Texas winters barely qualify for cold and a nice walk is good for the soul, the mind and the pocketbook.
The inverse of our rule about kids not remembering gifts is that kids do remember experiences. Helping your child climb a tree or skip a stone on the neighborhood pond is going to stick with them much longer than ripping open some wrapping paper.
Limit Travel to Driving Distance
Suggestion number two for saving money is to limit travel to those family and friends that live within driving distance. Resist the temptation to jet-set for far flung destinations and instead opt to jump in the family cruiser to see the relative that you’ve been neglecting but lives virtually around the corner.
Your family member in sunny California will understand if you skip the typical Christmas get together in the pricey Golden State and stay closer to home. Again, our previous point about kids not really remembering the expensive gifts rings true here as well. Plan family based activities close to home and you’ll score a double net positive of saving money and building memories with your immediate and extended families.
Christmas is not a competition
If you know that your spouse is going to engage in an all out holiday offensive- complete with gifts up the wazoo and a fancy trip during their periods of possession- try going the opposite direction.
Kids are intuitive and they understand when mommy and daddy are going tit for tat on spending money. They’ll use that to their advantage and in so doing you’ll be teaching the kids a bad habit about what this time of year is really about. Tamper down the spending and resist the temptation to keep up with your soon to be ex spouse.
How can I reach the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC during the Holidays?
Houston Family Lawyers: Whether you are a current client of the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC or are simply looking for representation on a Family Law case, our attorneys are only a phone call away- even during the Christmas season. While our lawyers and office staff will not be in the office on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, you are able to contact our office 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year with questions or concerns.
The majority of our lawyers and support staff have voicemail messages sent directly to their phones or email addresses making quick responses possible even during the holidays. We understand that not all family matters during this time of year can go smoothly. So if your drop off/pick up of a child doesn’t go smoothly and you have a question for your lawyer or paralegal or if you realized that it’s time to start the divorce process- our office is just a phone call away. The Contact Page for the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC includes details on how to reach our office by phone and how to schedule an appointment with your legal team once the holidays come to a close.
The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC wishes you and your family the best holiday season possible- even if your family has seen better days. A friendly staff member will assist you as quickly as possible upon receipt of your call.
No two divorces are the same and the attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC understand this as well as any family law firm in southeast Texas. Please contact our office today to learn more about the services our office can offer in your family law … Continue Reading