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 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
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
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 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 are often asked by clients
whether or not spending money on Christmas gifts is allowed under a temporary
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
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 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?
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
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
The attorneys at the Law Office of Bryan Fagan 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 during the Holidays?
Whether you are a current client of the Law Office of Bryan Fagan 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 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 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 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
If you want to know more about what you can do,
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“16 Steps to Help You Plan & Prepare for Your Texas Divorce”
Other Articles you may be interested in:
- Child Custody Basics in Texas
- Texas Child Visitation Modification
- 10 Quick Tips About Parental Visitation
- Texas Parental Visitation – Texas Standard Possession Orders in Harris
and Montgomery County, Texas – Part 1
- Texas Parental Relocation
- Geographic Restrictions in Child Visitation Orders in Texas
Law Office of Bryan Fagan | Houston, Texas Divorce Lawyers
The Law Office of Bryan Fagan routinely handles matters that affect children
and families. If you have questions regarding
divorce, it's important to speak with one of our
Houston, TX Divorce Lawyers right away to protect your rights.
divorce lawyers in Houston TX are skilled at listening to your goals during this trying process and
developing a strategy to meet those goals.
Contact Law Office of Bryan Fagan by calling (281) 810-9760 or submit your contact information in our online
form. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan handles
Divorce cases in Houston, Texas, Cypress, Klein,
The Woodlands, the FM 1960 area, or surrounding areas, including
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