Divorce is messy, time-consuming, and painful, and unresolved conflicts often continue to come up while both sides are trying to move on. For residents of Florida and elsewhere, these issues can manifest in an especially unpleasant way during the holidays, as angry parents abruptly change or sabotage ad hoc visitation schedules, leaving the other side hurt and the children confused.
Of course, parents in Orlando would be wise to iron out the details of any custodial and coparenting arrangement, and not try to go it alone without legal support. Such informal agreements are unenforceable without court intervention, and may change abruptly according to the needs or a personal grievance of one side, leaving the other parent out in the cold.
Working within the boundaries of a court order
When parents are navigating the challenges of getting through the holidays during or after divorce, strong emotions may come up that could prompt them to want to violate a coparenting or parenting time arrangement. Some issues may be relevant, while others may arise because of the turbulent changes that are occurring and the parents’ desire to create stability for their children.
Some tips for getting through the holidays without doing something rash include:
- trusting that the parenting arrangement both parents have worked out with mediated or court assistance will protect against reckless or unwise behavior by the other parent
- if the other parent has made wise decisions regarding the health and safety of the children, that they will continue to do so
- get feedback or observe the child’s behavior or concerns in their relationship with the other parent first before trying to change the arrangement
- consider mediation to resolve conflicts
During the holidays, it is also important to reflect on the significance of the holidays you are observing with the children, rather than simply viewing parenting time during these special occasions as a right to be jealously guarded.
The best interests of the child
Every state has laws that outline the factors a judge will consider when making custodial and time-sharing arrangements. In Florida, the court will make these decisions based on what is in the best interests of the child, which include the capacity of each parent to provide for the child’s emotional and physical wellbeing, their mental, physical and moral fitness, a history of domestic or substance abuse, and many other determinations.