Jonathan Marks, STL Moms: Holiday Advice for Divorced Families


Well Thanksgiving, a time to be with family, but for children of divorce, it can be stressful especially if their parents aren’t clear on their holiday plans. Family law attorney, Jonathan Marks, with The Marks Law Firm, here this morning, to talk about how you can kick out those holiday dilemmas. Good morning to you.

Good morning, Margie.

Yeah. Of course, both parents and the children want to be with each other during this time, so what are some of their options?

I mean, first you have to figure what your travel plans are. So, if everyone’s gonna stay in the St. Louis metropolitan area, then you wanna try and figure if it’s best just to split the holiday in half. So, maybe if you’re able to work out a situation when the kids get off school on Wednesday, one of the parents has them until maybe 4:00 in the afternoon on Thursday morning, and then, the other parent has the ability to have that Thursday afternoon and evening, into Friday afternoon, and you maintain your weekend schedule. That maybe is best for consistency if everyone is going to be staying in town. Of course, if you’re going out of town then you got a whole different situation.

Yeah. So, what happens if both parents have extended family out of town?


What can you do?

I think you have to look at what’s gonna fit best for the schedule. So, for example, if we’re just talking about maybe a short trip from here to Chicago, or somewhere in Kansas City, maybe you’re gonna look at maybe splitting it up from Wednesday to Friday and then the other parent be able to still celebrate it with family out of town, from the Friday to Sunday time period. But if you’re talking extensive travel, way out of state on the other side of the country, then obviously, you wanna look at trying to figure out a way that you’re alternating the holiday period every other year so that somebody would have maybe from the release of school on that Wednesday until the Sunday in the evening before they go back to school.

Yeah. What if one parent lives out of town? Like, a substantial distance?

Yeah. Generally, then, what the court is gonna try to do, if a parent is living out of town, they’re gonna try to fix a holiday schedule that really provides that parent most of the time for out-of-town visitation, to make up for the time they’re not having here locally. So, even though you may wanna try to alternate that Thanksgiving time period, generally speaking, that out-of-town parent is usually gonna get this particular holiday. Or if not, some other made-up time during this time period, if there’s a Fall break, or what have you, through the school system.

Yeah. So, if that one parent gets the entire Thanksgiving, maybe they get first dibs on Christmas week, I mean, they’ll adjust the custody schedule?

Yeah. Generally, what you, as a parent or as the courts are going to try to do is try to figure out what’s best for the kids to, you know, basically, spend as much time as possible with that out-of-town parent. So, if you are the parent that’s receiving the Thanksgiving holiday day, then generally speaking you’re probably gonna have the second half of the Christmas holiday breaks. So, probably not Christmas Eve going into Christmas day, but maybe, Christmas day at Noon or starting on the 26th going towards that second half of winter break.

All right. I mean, I think parents need to focus on the kids, after all. You know, they’re involved in this and why we’re celebrating the holidays, to give thanks, of course, and try to work it out.

It’s always best that if the parents are able to communicate, that they really try to figure out what the traditions have been for the family and maybe try to match those traditions even though they’re no longer married. So, if you had a family that traditionally celebrated Thanksgiving and it was very important, and the kids have been used to it, then try to maintain that tradition and maybe tradeoff for something that was important for your family, if it’s Christmas day or Easter, or whatever it may be, so that you can maintain those family traditions and the kids can then have consistency.

Absolutely. All right, family law attorney Jonathan Marks. Thank you, we appreciate your time. For more information on custody arrangements and The Marks Law Firm, just head to the STL Mom’s tab.

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