I spent eleven years a single mother and learned through the eyes of others just how strong I was at that time. Those outside observations and my reflections have shown how my inner strength as a single mother shaped my children into who they are today. From those observations that I had been told, I am able to encourage clients about to become single parents. I have listed seven of those observations to help you become a stronger single parent.

Be focused and goal oriented. Know what kind of life that you want to provide for your children and achieve them. Friends would tell me that they admired my focus and drive. Back then, I did not fully understand what they were seeing. I had visions for myself and my children. I knew where I wanted to raise my children and what beliefs I wanted to instill in them. This was my focus and I did whatever it took, including swallowing my pride, to achieve them. It was not easy, but the visions would motivate me to keep moving forward and to not allow the financial struggles or daily setbacks to halt the progress forward. Today, I watch my adult children set their own personal and family goals that are focused on building a better life for their children.

Be well-organized. Schedules and planners were my best friends as single parent. I allowed my children to follow what their passions were and that meant that I would to coordinate five different schedules. Our days were planned from the moment that we woke up to the moment we went to bed. I had established time frames for doing homework, having dinner, getting ready for bed, when to put away toys and belongings for the night, and quiet times in the house. For some of the children, the schedule helped them thrive and for others, it allowed them to know what was expected.

Be flexible. Having four children to raise on my own meant that something would not go as planned. Sometimes, the bus would be late to drop off a child from an out-of-town game. This would mean finding ways to communicate when the bus was back in town in enough time to minimize wait time in a car with siblings that were tired and needed to go to bed. Appointments would go longer than expected. Life would just happen, and I had to be willing to adjust and pivot quickly.

Be involved with your children. While my children played sports or participated in other extracurricular activities, I was always involved with them. Sometimes, I would volunteer to coach a team, which minimized the financial costs. Other times, I made a point to be at every game that I could attend and cheer for my child. There were times my children did not appreciate my sideline encouragements and requests were made that I not be so loud, but I was present in their lives. But I watched them grow and develop their own independence and confidence.

Know when to be independent and when to ask for help. I learned how to repair my car, re-caulk a tub, and many other tasks that typically live on a list for husbands. I did not allow my gender to be a reason for why I could not do something. However, I knew when something needed the right person to do the job. When my son’s baseball bat catapult went through a window, I was able to reach out to friends who knew how to replace the glass in an older wood-framed window and where to obtain the glass. I would exchange babysitting with other single mothers to be able to run errands or do my Christmas shopping.

Believer in yourself. There will be many times that doubt will creep in and try to convince you that you are ruining your children’s childhood. But if you act with their best interests in mind, they will know it. While you are one parent in a child’s life, know that it is enough. You are not perfect, and you will make mistakes. But from those mistakes, you will learn how to be a better parent. Keep a journal and document your journey. You will amaze yourself on how much you can accomplish whether out of necessity or because you want to.

Give back to others. This will be difficult on days you are exhausted or when money is tight. But find small ways to give back to others. Do not be afraid to let your children see your generosity. Let your children observe what a charitable heart looks like and why it is important to lift others up in their times of struggle.

Being a single parent is not something to be ashamed of. It is a just a stage of your life. Embrace the life lessons that you will learn and the personal growth that you will realize. If you need help finding resources in your community or a plumber, call our office for a referral to a member of our Team 100.  We are happy to recommend local professionals and technicians in the area that we know, like and trust. 

Last month, we tackled teen dating violence head-on. October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. When I was a child and young adult, domestic violence was not something that was talked about. It was still a skeleton in the closet. It was not spoken about and friends were not brought home out of fear that it would happen again. Those who lived daily with domestic violence did so in silence and feeling alone.

However, today that is changing. Now, we are saying “No More” to violence in relationships, whether dating, married or divorced. There is an organization called No More Project that is fighting to end domestic violence and sexual assault. You can visit their website at www.nomore.org and learn more about domestic violence, sexual assault, and how you can help end the violence.

But to end domestic violence, we need to shine a light on it that is so bright that there are no shadows to hide in. One-third of women will experience domestic violence or sexual assault during their lives. As a child growing up in a house with domestic violence, I did not understand that we were not the only family where this happened. I did not understand that other families in my own neighborhood were experiencing this as well. I did not know the impact of the domestic violence I witnessed would have on the choices I would make as an adult. It is just not one third of women who are experiencing this, but their children who witness the violence and aftermath of it.

In addition, 65% of those who come forward say that no one helped them. The biggest key in ending domestic violence is to do something and not simply stand by silently observing. Be a friend who listens and helps create a plan to leave in safety. Be a friend who watches young children, so papers can be filed at the local court for personal protection orders. Educate yourself on different ways you can help. No More Project has a page dedicated to providing tips and scenarios. You can access it at https://nomore.org/learn/bystander-scenarios/.

If you have a friend or family member who is in a violent relationship and they are ready to break free, be their support as they go through the process. Accompany them to hearings, appointments, or offer a safe place to stay. If your friend needs legal help in filing for personal protection orders, call our office to schedule an appointment.

As parents, it is in our nature to protect our children from harm whether physical or emotional. But the truth is, we cannot. Throughout their lifetimes, our children will fall and skin knees. They will develop friendships that cause them emotional pain. Our children will do the very actions that we warned them that will cause harm. Children need to learn for themselves as their individual failures help them to grow. However, some failures need more from us as parents to help our children grow and recover. One of those can be teen dating violence.

As your children grow into teenagers, they will begin to date. I remember when my children started to date. At the different ages of teenage years, “date” meant different things. For the young teens, dating another person was hanging out between classes and texting when home or on the weekends. There were not many actual dates as adults envision. Older teens would begin to go out with friends to the movies. A driver’s license opened the world and risk. I remember hearing after a break-up about all the reasons why. Sometimes, our teens will not share with us those struggles of dating. However, when those struggles of dating involve teen dating violence, we need to be ready to help our teen recover. Here are five tips for you as a parent to use to help your teen.

First, do not blame the teen and remind them that the dating violence they experienced is not her fault. Dating violence, and domestic violence, involve manipulation. Manipulation often accompanies physical and emotional abuse. The other person will blame the victim for the loss of control, the temper, or “making the other person do it.” Reassure your teen that the blame lies with the one who is abusive, whether physically or emotionally. Be gentle as changing this mindset and realizing that they had no control over another will take time. Slowly, your child will rebuild her self-esteem and confidence with your support.

Second, watch out for the emotional triggers. Your teen may not share with you everything that happed in the relationship. They may be embarrassed or ashamed. Take note of the what will trigger emotional outbursts or withdrawals. Respect those emotional triggers during the healing process.

Third, expect the emotional outbursts from your teen. Emotional outbursts for teens in general are expected as they go through the hormonal changes during the teen years. But when the addition of a trauma is added, the outbursts may increase. Work with your teen to understand the root of these emotional outbursts and discuss different ways of coping. Watch your teen for developing signs of anxiety, depression, or extreme mood swings. These may indicate that your teen is struggling and needs more supportive help.

Fourth, explore the option of individual counseling with your teen. While we love our children and want to help through everything, we may not be the person our children want to share the experiences of dating violence with. Your teen may fear how you will react and may believe that if they do not share, then they are protecting you from your reactions. However, they will need someone to talk to and understand the dynamics of the relationship. A counselor can help your teen on ways to recover and how to move forward.

Fifth, be a non-judgmental support system. I know this is easier said than done. But sharing what happened may be difficult for your teen. They need to know that you will listen without going into momma bear mode. They need to know that you will not judge them for not leaving at the first sign of problems or vocalize that you knew this person was bad. Be their shoulder to cry on and the strong arms to reassure them. Let them know whenever they need to talk about what happened or how they are feeling, you are there no matter the time to listen.

If your teen experienced dating violence and is still being harassed by the other party, call our office to explore what legal options are available.

As a parent and a grandparent, I am concerned about the increasing news about teen dating violence. This was not a topic that was talked about when I was growing up or when my own children were dating. But it is a topic that a parent of a teen needs to be aware and understand what some of the warning signs may be. A search on the internet turned up a lot of articles about teen dating violence and some of those articles were drawing links between teen dating violence and the increase in school shootings. As a parent, we need to know what our children’s world is like as it is not the same world that we grew up in.

The first thing to understand about teen dating violence is what it is and how common is it. This is a growing problem in the United States and about one-third of all teens involved in a romantic violence will experience abuse of some kind. [1] As parents, we need to think beyond the first images of abuse. Abuse is more than just physical violence. It includes sexual abuse and emotional abuse, which is the hardest to detect.  In July 2011, a study conducted by Priscilla Offenhauer and Alice Buchalter on teen violence stated that emotional abuse is the most common form with 76% of teen reporting teen dating violence.[2]

Since emotional abuse is the most common form of teen dating violence, as parents, we need to understand what it is and how to recognize some warning signs. Emotional abuse is “form of controlling behavior that involves subjecting another person to behavior that causes a diminished ‘sense of identity, dignity, and self-worth.’”[3] Emotional abuse includes isolation, verbal abuse, and embarrassment. It is easy a parent to discount emotional abuse as a just part of growing up or the way people get along, but the psychological effects of emotional abuse can cause as much damage as physical abuse.

There are warning signs that a parent should be able to recognize if a teen is experiencing teen dating violence. The signs include withdrawing interest from ordinary activities, unexpected or unexplained mood swings, demonstrated fear of upsetting their partner, reluctance to do any activity without their partner in fear of retribution, or self-harming or suicidal behaviors. If you recognize some of these signs or other behavior changes in your teen, then set aside to talk with them. Understand that if your teen has a strained relationship with you as a parent, your teen may not be willing to speak about the difficulties in the dating relationship. If this is the case, ask a family member or friend to speak with your teen. As a parent, you should convey to your teen that you are concerned for their safety, both physically and emotionally.

If your teen has been involved in a relationship with teen dating violence and you are not sure where to turn or how to help your teen, go to www.teendvmonth.org/resources/. If you need legal assistance, call us today for a compassionate team to help both you and your teen take control back.

[1] “Most Teens Suffer Emotional Abuse in Their Relationships”, https://www.teendvmonth.org/teens-suffer-emotional-abuse-relationships/ accessed 2/21/2019 written May 30, 2018

[2] Priscilla Offenhauer, Alice Buchalter; Teen Dating Violence: A Literature Review and Annotated Bibliography  https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/grants/235368.pdf accessed 2/21/2019

[3] Most Teens Suffer

February is National Teen Dating Violence Awareness month. According to the Domestic Violence Awareness Project, approximately 1.5 million teens experience physical abuse from a dating partner. As parents, educating our teenagers about what is domestic violence is a conversation that needs to happen just as much as we need to talk about birth control. As parents, both conversations are uncomfortable, but they are necessary conversations to protect our children.

In order to educate your teenager about domestic violence, you need to understand what it is. As a young child, I lived in a home where domestic violence was a frequent occurrence. However, I was taught that it was only abuse if someone was being physically hit or attack. But that is not the only type of domestic violence, and it took a long time for me to understand what the forms are. It was only after I reported my ex-husband after he hit me for the first time that I realized domestic violence is more than physical violence. I learned that I do not have to be hit for a spouse or someone I am dating to be abusive.

Domestic violence or abuse is a pattern of coercive, controlling behavior. It is when one person in a relationship is exerting power and control over the other person. Domestic violence takes many forms: physical, emotional, economic, stalking and harassment, and sexual.

Emotional abuse is a behavior that one partner uses to control the other or to damage their emotional well-being. It can be verbal or non-verbal. Some forms of emotional abuse include name-calling, yelling in your face, telling you what to do or where you can go, and placing little value on what you have to say. Emotional abuse can also include putting you down in front of other people or saying negative things about your friends and family. Often the abuser will blame the abused partner for their actions. When phone calls, texts or computer use is monitored or control, this is another form of emotional abuse.

If you do not know how to start the conversation with your teen about domestic violence, start with emotional abuse. Discuss what it is and how valuable your teen is. Let them know that no one, even someone they care about and are dating, should be using any form of emotional abuse against them. Be willing to have an open and honest discussion with your teen. This may include listening to your teen identify some of these behaviors in you or your spouse or significant other. Reiterate that the goal of these behaviors is to control another person or damage their self-esteem. Encourage your teen to come to you, if they are questioning this type of behavior in someone that she or he is dating. Discuss with your teen what steps can be taken to address this behavior before it escalates. This may include breaking up with the person if the behavior continues.

If steps you have taken as a family to end a relationship have not worked, call Melissa Pearce & Associates today at (248) 329-0344 to speak with our team on what you can do next to protect your teenager. 

By: Melissa Pearce, Founding Attorney

When it comes to extracurriculars, one disagreement among parents is the number of activities. On occasions, parents present us with a schedule for their children that has them running from early in the morning until bedtime with no time for schoolwork.When this type of schedule is presented to our team, the question arises “How do I limit the number of extracurricular activities that my child is doing?”

When parents are divorced, the answer to this question is not always easy. Extracurricular activities have positive benefits for children. These benefits can include being able to socialize with friends, develop talents, and learn lessons that cannot be taught from inside a classroom.  However, there are risks that can be associated with the participation which could leave along-lasting negative impact.

            Before you file a motion to limit these activities, please consider these tips to reach an agreement outside of the courtroom.

  1. Enroll your children in age appropriate activities. Typically,these kinds of activities have minimum participation ages. Enrolling your child in something above their level can be strenuous on them and can be more harmful than helpful.
  2. A full physical examination will ensure that your children are physically capable of participating in the sport to prevent any injuries.
  3. Volunteer at school events. This can help you and your child make connections with other community members on a more consistent basis.
  4. Monitor your children’s grades to ensure their education is not suffering due to time constraints and pressure. Education should come first for the children.
  5. This will allow your child to have more time to complete school work and be active in family activities.
  6. Ask your children why they want to get involved in certain activities and continue to ask your children if they still want to continue doing those activities, especially as they take on advanced school courses or additional responsibilities.
  7. This will allow time for your children to keep up on their school work and prevent exhaustion from lack of rest.

            When seeking the court’s assistance on deciding the number of extracurricular activities, the argument should focus on what is best for the child rather than an intrusion into parenting time. In Michigan, the courts focus on what is best for the child first and foremost.

Participation in extracurricular activities is good for a child. They should participate as they are able so that they may learn to be more well-rounded for adulthood. There are somethings that we as parents cannot teach that much be experienced. Children gain lessons from participation in these that cannot be learned at home or in the classroom.

If you cannot reach an agreement with the other parent on how many extracurricular activities is reasonable, contact the team at Melissa Pearce & Associates for assistance. We are here to help you redefine your family.

Recently, we have been observing more fights over extracurricular activities for children. Sometimes, we are asked, “What are extracurricular activities, and do I have to approve each and every one that my child does?” This is a good question and dealt with as two questions in one.

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First, what are extracurricular activities? In a simple explanation, this would be anything your child does outside of normal school hours. Extracurricular activities “include arts, athletics, clubs, employment, personal commitments, and other pursuits.” These activities can be a program or sport sponsored by the child’s school or school district, through community education, or offered from a private studio, dance school, or instructor. Extracurricular activities can include tutoring for assistance in classes that your child may be struggling with. Often, I am asked the follow up question of why are the extracurricular activities important. The answer for each client depends on their child and the child’s unique pursuits. Sometimes, the child is highly talented in music or the arts and the parents have historically supported the pursuit from a young age. The child may be interested in developing a skill or talent. It may just be a way the child socializes with classmates and friends outside of the classroom. The reasons why a child should or should not participate are unique as each child in the world.

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            The next question about approving every extracurricular activity that a child does is another one that depends on the circumstances. We often inquire about how many extracurriculars is a child doing per semester. Having been a mother of children who participated in extracurriculars from marching band, dance, sports, church activities, summer camps, theater, driver’s education, and after school clubs such as chess club or Spanish Club, I understand how busy children’s lives and the intrusion upon family time and homework. But each child who participated in an extracurricular activity, they learned life lessons that could not be learned in a traditional classroom. For instance, those who participated in sports learning how to deal with competition, cheating, and recovering from losing the game. For the children, who participated in activities involving the arts, they learned about the dedication and time it takes to improve a talent, skill or passion. Others just had fun socializing with their friends. Some of the children were able to list their extracurricular activities on college applications.

            Guidelines for approving the activities were often known from the moment the child started participating. There were rules that were set early on and required the child to meet to continue participation when it came time to renew. As far as intruding on family time, it happened but was a sacrifice as a parent I chose to make as I knew the alternative was not the life I wanted for my children. Extracurricular activities kept the children busy and off the streets unsupervised where their own choices lacking experience and wisdom could get them into trouble. From working after school, the children began learning about the importance of a job, managing money and saving for what you want. All the extracurricular activities helped develop the children into who they are today.

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            Whether your child participates in extracurricular activities and which ones is a conversation that you need to have with the other parent and your child. Ask why does the child want to do this activity? Work together to set boundaries for participating. For instance, I required my children to actively participate throughout the duration of the activity or risk the opportunity to do others. When the children were in high school and able to work, I would require contribution toward the cost, especially when I realized that the child may not be appreciative of what it took to participate. The child had the choice to participate again the following season or year. It was not something I mandated to the children outside of completing their commitment, even if they grew to hate it.

            But what worked for my family and children may not work in every family. It needs to be a family discussion and parents need to agree to how many per semester or quarter a child may do. The finances need to be discussed. I know firsthand how expensive dance and acting lessons are and the cost may be prohibitive to some families.

            Speaking of cost that is another conversation to have. How will divorced or unmarried parents share in the cost of the extracurricular activities? Are there opportunities for the parent to volunteer to reduce the financial cost? If so, which parent will volunteer and how will their effort be accounted for?

            If your child wants to do extracurriculars, have a discussion with the child and other parent. Reach agreements on what will and may happen. Determine the limitations. It is easier than filing a motion to have a third party determine what your child can do after school is over.

If you are in a disagreement with your child’s mother or father on participation in extracurricular activities that you cannot resolve on your own, call us today for assistance. We may offer insights you have not thought of or can assist you in presenting your case to the judge.

The day after Thanksgiving, also known as Black Friday, is the biggest shopping day of the year in America.  When it comes to cashing in on the day’s deals, the motto is “If you snooze, you lose.” For serious bargain-hunters, the day is the ultimate shopping extravaganza that requires a strategic plan, including store maps and item locations, that’s hatched days in advance. For those parents that fit the image of a “mama bear,” the goal is to snag up the must have item on the child’s list at a bargain price.

The combination of too-good-to-be-true deals and shoppers anxious to be first to purchase limited supply items can be dangerous, though. Overzealous and sleep-deprived drivers can make roads and parking lots dangerous. Unfortunately, Black Friday brings out thieves, pickpockets, and others, who are looking to take advantage of unsuspecting shoppers. 

No matter when you leave the house in search of Black Friday deals or saving your holiday shopping for the last minute, use the following safety tips to create your own holiday safety plan.  A carefully thought out holiday safety plan is key to giving yourself the gift of peace during this holiday season. 

In stores: 

  • Purchase a pre-paid card to do your shopping with. Consider purchasing more than one and limit the card to $200, so your entire holiday budget is not on one card. 
  • Limit the number of cards you take into a store and know how much you plan to spend. 
  • Lock the cards in your glove box. 
  • Keep purses zipped, closed, and close to your body in the front. If possible, carry keys, cash, and credit cards all separate from each other.  
  • Have your keys in hand when leaving a store.  
  • Don’t overload yourself with bags when leaving a store, it makes it difficult to defend yourself.  
  • Remember safety in numbers, avoid walking alone, especially in the dark.  

On the road and parking lot: 

  • Lock all doors and roll windows up. 
  • When shopping, keep gifts hidden in the trunk or from view.  
  • Avoid parking next to vans or large trucks. 
  • Always park in a well-lit area.  
  • Check the area around your car for anything suspicious when approaching. 
  • If going to an ATM at night, use the well-lit drive-up ATM at banks only and keep your receipt. 

The firm of Melissa Pearce & Associates wishes everyone a safe and joyous holiday season. 

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You are scheduling your first family vacation with your kids since your divorce. How do you plan this vacation with your ex in mind? What do you or do you not tell them or do in that vacation? Here a few tips on how to make your vacation planning go smoothly:

1. Do not tell your children first!

You have planned a vacation to Disneyland and want to share the news with your children. Your boss has approved your vacation time and it will be scheduled for the upcoming holiday break from school. You know the children will be excited, but when should you tell them. The best tip is to wait to tell the children until after you have spoken with the other parent and all details are set.

2. Review the custody and parenting time sections of your Judgment.

Before you ask for the time off for vacations with your children, read over the custody and parenting time provisions in your judgment and orders entered after the judgment. Do you understand the limitations listed in the paragraph on the Hague Convention? Are you traveling to a country that is not a party to the Hague Convention? Do you know where to find those countries? Read the provisions for holiday parenting time. Are your plans within your schedule time? Have you allotted enough time to deal with canceled flights or other delays due to weather? How much notice are you required to provide the other parent? What information must be shared pursuant to the terms of the judgment? If any of the provisions or terms are unclear to you, you may need to consult an attorney to determine what you will need to do.

3. Talk to the Other Parent

Before you book a flight or reserve a hotel suite, talk to the other parent. If you need extra days to accommodate travel, ask how you can arrange this. Be willing to give up some of your time around your travel to have the time you need. Put any agreements reached with the other parent in writing and follows the terms of your judgment. If you are deviating from the terms of the judgment, put those in writing and have both parties sign, in front of notaries preferably. If there is a disagreement about your proposed travel plans, contact an attorney for assistance in working out the disagreement.

4. Give Advance Notice

Provide advanced notice to the other parent of your intended holiday or vacation plans.  Do not wait until the time specified in your judgment or the last minute. If the other parent is not in agreement or is holding the passport hostage, you will have enough time to seek the assistance of an attorney. If the other parent refuses or disagrees with your travel plans, you will have plenty of time to bring a motion before the court.

5. Provide all the Information and a Tentative Schedule

Giving notice in advance and talking to the other parent should include all the information and tentative schedule, even if your judgment does not require it. Being generous with this information may ease fears or anxiety that can lead disagreements. Provide this information in writing, an email is fine. This provides proof of the information communicated, if it is later needed. Be sure to answer the following in your notice:

  • Where are you going and for how long?
  • What are your travel plans?
  • How will you travel? By plane, car, train or bus? Be willing to provide the details of your travel, including airline, flight number and flight schedule.
  • Who is going with you and the children?
  • Where do you plan on staying? Provide all the information.
  • Have you made reservations or booked flights yet?
  • Do you need the child’s passport or immunization records?
  • What is the schedule like and when can the child and other parent communicate during the trip? Is communication with the other parent the best for the child?

If you are providing copies of confirmations or receipts for any reservations or bookings, feel free to redact any information that details with costs or account numbers.

6. Get Paperwork Early

Determine if the children will need a passport or visa. If this is the case the other parent normally must sign the appropriate paperwork. If the other parent has the passport, you will need to obtain it from them. If the other parent refuses to sign paperwork or turn over the passport, you will need time to file a motion with the court. There should be time to allow for enforcing the court’s decision, if the other parent is defying the court’s orders. This may take weeks or months to accomplish, so waiting until two weeks before the schedule trip may be too late.

            A sample email notice to the other parent may look like the following:

Dear Co-Parent,

As you recall, I have Spring Break next year, I have a vacation planned for this school break with the children. I have not informed the children yet, but I want to surprise them with it after speaking with you. Below is the information for the proposed plan.

On Saturday, April 4, 2019, the children and I will leave at approximately 7a.m. from my home. We will fly out of Detroit Metro to Orlando on United. I am looking at a 9 a.m. flight that will land around 11 a.m. in Orlando. This will be a direct flight. I will provide you with the exact times and flight number after I have booked the flight. We are staying for five nights at Disney All-Star Movies Resort, address and telephone. On Wednesday, we will drive down to Miami, Florida and stay in my parent’s condo, address and telephone. We will return to Orlando to catch our return flight home on Sunday. After retrieving our luggage, getting a quick dinner and driving, I expect that the children will arrive at your home around 8 p.m. The children will give you a call when we land and when we are on our way to your home.

Please contact me as soon as possible if you have any questions or concerns. As always, I will have the children contact you in the evenings. I will have my cell phone with me the whole time, if you need to reach us.



            You are not required to provide this information to the other parent (unless your judgment or order says differently); however, this act of good faith and spirit of cooperation may may co-parenting around the holidays easier. Finally, this behavior, even if not witnessed by the children, will last far into their future as the children will know that they had two parents who loved them and worked together for their benefit.

If you or a love one his having trouble planning their vacations with the other parent in mind, call us today. We can help make redefining family easier.

            In our last few blogs we have discussed what is holiday parenting time and what holidays are observed. But what happens if a holiday is important to your family and it is not listed in the holiday parenting time schedule. There are some holidays celebrated across the generations as part of one’s ancestral culture or religion that may not be recognized by the mainstream. This does not mean that a divorce will now end this tradition for your children. Here are some tips to handle those unscheduled holidays.

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            Ask the other parent to allow you to spend time with children. If the tradition has been ongoing, talk to the other parent. Ask that she allow you parenting time to celebrate this holiday with the children. You may have to remind her of the importance the holiday has been in your lives and reinforce your desire to continue its celebration with the children.

            Document agreements in writing. When the other parent agrees to allow you parenting time with the children for a holiday, document your agreement in writing. You do not need a formal written order to document your agreement for one year, but if you are looking to make celebrating the holiday an annual tradition with the children, adding it to the court-ordered holiday parenting time schedule will remove the uncertainty for the years to come. Both you and the children can count of being able to celebrate as a family. If it is a special occasion that you have requested, then exchanging text messages or emails that clearly state you both agree and what are the logistics may be enough.

            Show gratitude to the other parent. If you have received an agreement to celebrate an important holiday with the children, express your gratitude to the other parent. The parent could have denied you this opportunity, but instead showed respect for your traditions. This olive branch should be recognized, and gratitude expressed for the kindness and respect being shown to you.

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            Inform your attorney. The best approach about handling unscheduled holidays that are important to you and honor family traditions is to communicate those holidays to your attorney. If your attorney is unfamiliar with the holiday, you may have to explain the importance of the holiday to your attorney. Request that your attorney includes the holiday in the negotiations for holiday parenting time. Insist on mentioning the holiday in any mediation summary or trial brief that the attorney will have to write during your case. You may have to educate others why continuing this holiday tradition is in the children’s best interests.

            Celebrate the requested holiday with your children. If you have taken the steps to have parenting time on an unscheduled holiday, give the other parent advance information about how the holiday will be celebrated. Share what time you will pick up the children and when the children will return home. If the children need special clothing or equipment, communicate this. Finally, show up to celebrate the holiday. The other parent should not be asking you if you are coming to pick up the children for a holiday that you specifically requested.

            If you are having difficulty being granted time with your children on holidays not recognized by the Friend of the Court but have a long tradition in your family, call us today. We understand that in our diverse society there will be holidays celebrated that do not make the standard Friend of the Court holiday parenting time guidelines. We are here to help you preserve and pass on the family traditions to your children.