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The holidays are here! Can you believe it? For divorced/living separate families, this time of the year can present a whole host of new challenges and anxieties. While you were married or together you may have split Thanksgiving between two or even three events with various parts of your extended families. You may have spent Christmas Eve with your family and Christmas Day with his family. You may have agreed to stay in town for Thanksgiving every year and celebrate with your family and go to Chicago to visit his parents every year for Christmas. When a breakup happens, it is inevitable that your yearly traditions will change. These changes may be hard on you, your children, your former spouse or significant other, and the extended families involved.
A common way that separating individuals handle holiday division is by implementing the Court’s standard order. The standard order serves, among other things, to divide up holidays with the children between the mother and father. For example, during even years the mother may have the children until 9pm on Christmas Eve and the father may have the children at 9pm on Christmas Eve through the day after Christmas. This arrangement works well for a lot of individuals, especially those in a high conflict situation where sitting down and negotiating is simply not an option. Keep in mind that your family is not bound to follow the Court’s standard order. The parents can make any agreement that works best for their family. I recommend if at all possible that parents first consider their holiday traditions and try to tailor their agreement around those traditions if such traditions exist. This consideration and specific tailoring of the holidays may bode well for your children’s adjustment to the separation. If concessions are made and your holiday schedule looks different than before, that is okay too. Overtime new traditions will develop. You may also need to have a talk with your extended family and come up with alternative plans. Hopefully your family will be understanding and willing to modify their holiday traditions so that your children can be included in the celebration! At the end of the day, it really is all about your attitude and willingness to be flexible that will make or break this holiday season. I wish you and your family peace and happiness!