The holiday period can be very difficult for families that are facing separation or divorce, especially where there are children. Do we split up before Christmas or postpone the separation to January? Maybe you’re living separately but under the same roof – avoiding being in the same room and only talking when you absolutely have to. How you choose to deal with these issues can have an impact on you and your children, but it can also affect any future negotiations between you and your spouse. Here are some tips to help you get through the festive period:
- Plan ahead – if you feel able to communicate with your spouse, have discussions as soon possible, preferably at a time when things are calm. Try calling a truce. If you have a habit of arguing or frustrating each other, you should try to give each other space or attempt a compromise for the Christmas and New Year period.
- The most important thing is that you and your spouse put your children first. Do what is in their best interest. Regardless of how you feel about each other, don’t talk about their other parent negatively in front of the children. Keep your feelings to yourself and vent your frustration to a trusted family member or friend. Remember, for children, Christmas is the most magical part of the year. Having them at the forefront of your mind is the key. It’s what they deserve.
- If you have children and their Christmas Day is going to be split, decide how you’re going to share the time. For example, the children could have lunch with you and then go to their other parent for tea. Be encouraging to your children and tell them it’s okay that they will not be with you all of the time. If they know you are supportive, they will be happier.
- Can you and your spouse discuss parameters regarding spending? The holidays can put a financial strain on any family, but it’s even more difficult when you are going through a separation or divorce. Can you agree to contribute equally towards gifts?
- If your spouse/partner has had an affair, then you may not want to spend time with them. If this is the case, you could look at spending time with family instead.
- If you have not done so already, look at accessing marriage counselling. It may be that you can work through your differences.
Accept that it will be different. There will be a great deal of emotion in trying to keep everything together. It may not be perfect and it’s probably not what you would have ever wanted, but all you can do is make the best of it.
- Look after yourself. Separation and divorce is a painful process for all involved. It will encompass all of the complex feelings of bereavement, grief, loss, shock and disbelief. It’s a process that takes time and each stage will bring new challenges. Christmas is one of those challenges. If you are a parent, it can bring huge feelings of guilt about the loss of the family unit and its impact on the children. If you’re struggling, do try to get some support from family, friends or organisations that can offer guidance and support.
If you are about to separate or divorce or are already going through separation or divorce and you need assistance, please contact us now to arrange a meeting with one of our family law experts.
Author: Nicola Cancellara, family solicitor.