Archive for the ‘ Father’s Day ’ Category

Holiday Access Blues

Three helpful tips to avoid the holiday access blues!

Holidays, such as this weekend’s Thanksgiving, can be times of great family joy and celebration. But for separated or divorced parents holidays can often be times of great sadness and disappointment.

In fact as a family lawyer I’ve found most court applications for access usually precede holidays such as summer, or Christmas holidays.

So here are three helpful tips to hopefully keep you and your ex out of court.

First, and foremost, you should ensure, (whatever the agreed access) that the holiday access terms are accurately set out in a court order, Separation Agreement, or other legally enforceable written agreement.

 I know what some of you will say. “I’m on great terms with my ex and we’ve never had any issues around holiday access”.

You’ll just have to trust me when I tell you; unfortunately, it is unlikely that this state of holiday access nirvana will persist indefinitely.

Whether it has to do with your or her “new” partner, or something else, far better to have holiday access terms that you can legally enforce, if necessary, rather than relying on (now) non-existent goodwill.

Secondly, DON”T ACCEPT the phrase “reasonable and generous access”,   (unless modified as set out below.) to describe your holiday access. That’s because such holiday access is virtually impossible to enforce, since your interpretation of “reasonable and generous” may be one half of any holidays, while your ex believes one day during the holidays is “reasonable and generous”.

Remember, if you and your ex can’t agree on a certain interpretation it will be left to your judge to figure out holiday access, always a potentially risky (and totally unnecessary) gamble.

Thirdly, to minimize holiday access disputes you should include what is known as “specified access”. This means clarifying the holiday access terms, for example does it mean the school Christmas holidays, ie two weeks, or just the statutory holiday?

In addition, if there are other holidays or occasions of special importance to you and your new family, ie Fathers/Mother’s day, children’s birthdays, etc, these special occasions should also be defined.

Follow these three tips and you’ll improve your chances of avoiding the holiday blues!

 

 

 

 

FATHER’S DAY MESSAGE

Let’s not forget today’s true message!

Today is Father’s Day, and I can’t stop thinking about all of those separated or divorced fathers who struggle valiantly to remain relevant in the lives of their children.

I’m especially remembering those dads who frequent family law offices like mine, fighting to become, or remain, every bit as active, and involved a parent, as the mothers of their children.

Over the past 20 years, has the family law systems moved away from the long-held conviction that mothers are more important to children than fathers, with access every other weekend being good enough?

Sure it has. 

But the legal battles continue, draining the financial and emotional resources of both moms and dads.  Resources much better utilized jointly parenting children, rather than sustaining never- ending court proceedings.

I also remember the incredible efforts of past father activists, like the late Guy Tisdale who dedicated their lives to improving the family law system for fathers, all based on the premise that children without fathers suffer the negative consequences for the rest of their lives.

To be clear, not all separated or divorced fathers want to be involved as an equal parent in all aspects of their children’s lives.  It’s frustrating for both me and some moms when I tell them that there is no legal way to ensure that reluctant fathers will exercise regular and consistent access.

Hopefully those “missing in action” dads will figure it out before their children are grown.

But for those dads who make the commitment to sharing the parenting obligations, and responsibilities, along with mom, (Disney Dads need not apply), there should be no legal impediments put in their way.

This means, (and anyone who has read my newspaper columns/blogs over the past many years, knows all too well), that children need and deserve the equal involvement of two responsible, loving parents.

I can’t think of a better Father’s Day gift this day, or any other!