Divorced Parents Guide to Surviving Thanksgiving

Being a divorced parent can, of course, be stressful. However, it can be particularly stressful during the holidays. It’s not uncommon for both parents to feel they have the right to spend a decent amount of time with their children during these times of the year. The problem is, it’s also not uncommon for these matters to be complicated. Everything from the ruling of the court to personal feelings can create challenges.

If you’re a divorced parent, this might be on your mind with Thanksgiving on its way. You also might have several questions about the topic.

Luckily, surviving Thanksgiving after divorce, even if you’re a parent, doesn’t need to be as stressful as you think. The following points will clarify key issues, helping you better understand how to navigate this difficult legal and emotional territory.


A Parent’s Thanksgiving After Divorce: Divorce Attorney Addresses Key Issues

Do you need to allow your spouse visitation rights if they aren’t paying their child support?

dealing with child custody after a divorce during thanksgiving

Again, it’s natural during the holidays for parents to want to see their children. However, if your former spouse has been ordered to pay child support but has failed to do so, you might wonder if you need to allow them their visitation rights. Perhaps you think withholding these rights will motivate them to begin paying what they owe. After all, that money is meant to help you provide a decent life for your child. Both you and your child rely on it.

This is an understandable impulse to have. However, under current Florida Statutes, it is unlawful to only allow a parent to spend time with their child on the condition that they pay money in any form. Thus, even if your former spouse has been delinquent in paying child support, you shouldn’t forbid them from seeing their children. This is particularly important around Thanksgiving. Children typically don’t want their holidays made more stressful because they weren’t allowed to see a parent.

That said, it is also important that you address the situation when an ex isn’t paying what they’ve been ordered to pay. You may want to consult with a divorce attorney to find out what your options are.


Are child custody settlements or orders more flexible during particular times of the year, such as the holidays?

If you’ve already finalized your divorce, the odds are good you entered into some form of official child custody schedule. The nature of this schedule will depend on the nature of the divorce. Some parents can reach a settlement agreement. In other instances, a judge must issue a child custody order, which usually involves agreeing to a specific custody schedule that should cover how children split their time with their parents during the holidays. 

Different parents choose (or are ordered to enter into) different arrangements depending on many factors. Sometimes, if both parents live relatively far from each other, they may agree to alternate years, with one parent getting custody of the children for Thanksgiving one year and the other parent getting child custody the next. In other cases, when this is a convenient and practical option, they may choose to split the day. The children spend half of Thanksgiving with one parent and the other half with the other parent.

That said, planning for the holidays can be complicated even if you’re not divorced. Last-minute changes can easily throw a schedule into disarray. Perhaps you’re wondering if your child custody schedule can be more flexible this time of year.

Legally, no. Violating the schedule could have consequences. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t get in touch with your ex and ask if they’re willing to be more flexible. They might be willing to accommodate changes if you explain the situation and make a fair argument. Just remember, you’re still technically bound by law to follow the child custody schedule set out during your divorce. You shouldn’t try to ask for more flexibility from your ex if you can’t trust them not to “change their mind” later.


When should I call a divorce attorney?

Your first Thanksgiving after divorce will almost certainly involve some degree of stress if you’re a parent. Knowing your rights (and your ex’s rights) ahead of time will help you prepare for this time of year more effectively. 

Of course, there are many potential instances in which your ex may be genuinely failing to abide by the terms of your divorce. Maybe they’re not paying child support. Perhaps they’re trying too hard to work around the child custody schedule, or they have a legal complaint you’re not sure is valid. Either way, the best course of action when you have these concerns is to contact a divorce attorney. At the firm of Dean G. Tsourakis, in Clearwater, FL, you’ll find an expert ready and willing to help you navigate this challenging situation. Contact us online today to learn more about what we can do for you.