Claudette-Jean Girard, Attorney at Law
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Family Law Attorney

I provide experienced legal guidance in family law, divorce and special education law. I represent parents and families throughout western Massachusetts.

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Tips for separated Massachusetts parents around the holidays

Oftentimes, before parents make the big decision to divorce, there is a trial separation period. Separated couples are simply married couples who are no longer living together as typical married couples, and they tend to make some decisions solo instead of as a unit. Separation can give married couples a chance to cool down and get back together or it could solidify the idea that a permanent separation, or divorce, is the best thing for them and their family. When parents are separated over the holidays it can be stressful and overwhelming to have a change in the holiday routine, both for the parents and for the children.

To make this time easier on you and the kids, make your children the priority this holiday season. By focusing on them, a parent leaves little time to focus on other negative things like how they feel during a failing marriage. Also, because the holidays often involve travel, planning ahead and extended family, it may be wise to consult with your separated spouse about each other's plans so that there is no confusion for the kids around holiday plans. This act of making plans and likely compromising for the children's best interests can be helpful down the road when you and your separated spouse decide to divorce for good and need to make plans regularly around a child custody arrangement.

It's good to practice these skills because it can prepare you for the future in a way that is beneficial for you, your spouse and the kids. Beyond planning ahead, communication during the holidays is highly recommended as it is in the best interests of the children. Obviously, separated parents had good reason for taking a break from each other, but try to put all that aside when communicating about the kids' needs. Also, because the holidays normally center around family tradition, do your best to start new positive traditions even with the new home life in place.

Many separated parents ultimately make the decision to divorce. Because initial parent separation can be a real shock for some families, parent in the Springfield area should try to enter into this time with a focus on the children. Planning ahead with your separated spouse can ease a lot of the stress associated with the holidays. Communication is key even if you can't stand your spouse; think of how communicating effectively can better prepare you and your family for the future.

Source: The Charlotte Observer, "3 stress-relieving holiday tips for separated or divorced parents," Amanda Cannavo, Dec. 12, 2016

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