If a couple decides to resolve their divorce using the collaborative divorce process, they will have the benefit of working together and with a team to develop their short and long-term holiday plans. In New York, families who work within the collaborative divorce process sit down and discuss the holidays with their family specialist, who serves as a child specialist and a coach for the parties’ communication. When the parties use the collaborative divorce process, the family specialist will help them look at a variety of options for their time with the children. The family specialist can advise the parents what the best options will be to help the children (and often the parents) have the healthiest parenting time arrangement going forward. This conversation is not going to be a legal conversation. Generally, the lawyers aren’t even involved unless there’s a real sticky situation, which is not that common in the collaborative divorce process. The lawyers give some overall guidance to their clients, but because they are working with family specialists who the lawyers know well and trust, the entire experience for the parents and usually the children is very different from that in a litigated divorce. In the collaborative divorce process, the focus is on the children and in the end, that usually is more beneficial to the parents, too. 

Part 1 of our 3 part series on holiday planning during divorce focused on putting your children first. Here, in Part 2, we focus on creative solutions to celebrate the holidays that are available through the collaborative process.

Creative Solutions

For most people, the holiday season is the happiest of times, but for families in the middle of a divorce or after the conclusion of a divorce, this season can be the toughest. Parents often say their top goal in the divorce is that the children’s lives don’t change. But realistically, whether because of divorce or other circumstances, children’s lives do change. If parents can take care of themselves so that their own pain from the divorce is not the overriding shadow darkening the holidays, they can use this time as one of the greatest teaching moments as parents. For this reason, we have put together a 3-part holiday planning series to help divorcing or divorced parents navigate the holidays with as much ease and joy as possible. 

Here, in Part 1, we focus on families who are in the middle of the divorce process or have only just recently decided to end their marriage. This can be a tricky time because when you’re in the early or middle stages of divorce, a final agreement has not been reached and finalized. 

Like so much of a family’s life during this time, everything, including the holidays, feels like it is in suspense. In a pending divorce, when parents are preparing for and attending meetings with their attorneys and other divorce professionals, the process can leave them feeling overwhelmed with their day-to-day lives. Suddenly, one of the holidays is just around the corner and it hits them: what are we doing this year? Here are some holiday planning considerations for parents in the middle of a divorce.

Recently, I was interviewed on the TUFF LOVE podcast with Robert Kandell about The Radical Change of Gender Dynamics in Modern Divorce to discuss my practice as a Collaborative Divorce Lawyer & Mediator. Listen to the podcast, and learn why I am passionate about non-adversarial divorce:

  • What led me to practice divorce law
  • How to have a non-adversarial divorce

I recently contributed to a Your Tango article Forget Prenups: Here’s Why You and Your Spouse Should Have a Postnuptial Agreement Instead. Unlike a prenup, postnuptial agreements are negotiated without the duress of a wedding day looming. Instead, they are negotiated when a couple is able to discuss their goals reasonably and calmly.

The major benefit of a postnuptial agreement

Vacca Family Law Group Named to 2019 Law Firm 500 | Andrea Vacca | Vacca Family Law Group

Vacca Family Law Group is honored to announce that our law firm has been named a 2019 Law Firm 500 Honoree, awarded to the Fastest Growing Law Firms in the US. We ranked 67 with a growth rate of 72%. We appreciate the support of our clients and colleagues who helped us get where we are today.

Our law firm is committed to helping our clients put their families first and dissolve their marriages without litigation. In addition to working with clients who have decided to end their marriage but are looking for a better way, we work with couples to create prenuptial agreements that plan for a healthy marriage. With discretion, elevated service and a flexible approach, we specialize in finding creative (and sometimes unconventional) solutions that are right for each client’s unique situation.

Andrea Vacca, founder of the Vacca Family Law Group, said,

Dear Clients, Colleagues, and Friends,

I am pleased to announce an exciting new chapter for our law firm. Effective August 1, 2019, Vacca Law & Mediation has become Vacca Family Law Group.

This change reflects our law firm’s commitment to help our clients put their families first and dissolve their marriages without litigation. We work with couples to create prenuptial agreements that plan for a healthy marriage, and with couples who have decided to end their marriage but are looking for a better way. With discretion, elevated service and a flexible approach, we specialize in finding creative (and sometimes unconventional) solutions that are right for each client’s unique situation.

Divorce in New York can be expensive and this is especially true if there are complicated issues involved regarding finances or your children. But there are things you can do to keep the costs down.

I recently contributed to a Forbes Next Avenue article 8 Ways to Lower the Cost of a Divorce. The article makes it clear that with planning and some DIY homework, you can lower the attorney fees for your divorce.

In addition to the 8 tips in the article, I would add these as well:

In most divorces, both spouses are aware that the marriage is ending and they decide what process they will use to reach an agreement, such as using mediation or the collaborative process. In other divorces, however, there has not been a meeting of the minds. While one spouse has been contemplating ending the marriage for months or even years, the other spouse seems to have no idea how bad things have gotten and your spouse doesn’t want to end the marriage.

I hear about these situations quite often. Let’s say it’s the wife who wants the divorce and she feels she has tried repeatedly to get her husband to work with her to resolve the problems in the marriage. For whatever reason, nothing has changed and the wife is now ready to do whatever she needs to do to get out of her unhappy marriage.

Perhaps she was referred to an attorney who represented a friend in her divorce. And the attorney tells her that she can start a court action, have the husband served with a Summons with Notice in an Action for Divorce and he will then have no choice but to deal with the situation.

Recently, I was interviewed on the WORTHY podcast ‘Divorce – and other things you can handle!’ to address the stigma around prenups and how a pragmatic approach can be the foundation for long-lasting romance. Listen to the podcast, and get my tips on how prenups and conscious coupling can create healthier marriages: https://www.worthy.com/blog/podcast/episodes/season-2/10-conscious-coupling-with-andrea-vacca/

In this podcast and in earlier blogs, I’ve discussed that millennials are waiting longer to get married, that they have typically accumulated substantial financial assets before marriage and have probably been negatively impacted by divorce at some point in their lives. This has resulted in a shift towards what I call “conscious coupling.” More so than earlier generations, millennials are likely to see the value of a prenuptial agreement to help avoid arguments, or even worse, having a judge make financial and business decisions for them. Two qualified attorneys or a single mediator will help the couple discuss all the issues and ask all the questions that they may not have known to ask themselves.  Not only will this type of conversation lead to an agreement that helps both parties feel secure, but it will also help to build the communication skills they will need if they want to develop a long and happy marriage.

Download My Checklist:

People divorcing after the age of 50, often called grey divorce, recognize that they have some different financial and emotional issues not faced in younger couples who divorce. As I wrote earlier, navigating a grey divorce with dignity is often an essential requirement for later in life divorce. Complicated assets, financial commitments to adult children, and retirement planning may all be in play.  Equally important to divorcing couples who have a long history together, is the need to develop the emotional tools to negotiate a divorce and reach an agreement that allows the couple to maintain a cordial relationship and jointly participate in family events. While all of these issues are not unique to grey divorce, that fact that older couples do not have the time to start over and rebuild their life, and in fact may want to maintain many aspects of their current life in the future, makes a divorce team of specialized professionals essential to help the couple address their short-term and long-term needs.

How Mediation and Collaborative Divorce Meet the Needs for Later In Life Divorce

A divorce team is a key resource in alternative divorce processes such as mediation and collaborative divorce. The divorce team is often made up of neutral specialists who help the couple jointly and independently to get the information, emotional support and resources they need to make decisions about their future. A key benefit of the divorce team is they are trained, experienced divorce specialists in their own field and bring in knowledge and expertise to help couples navigate unknown territory, typically at an hourly rate that is lower than a divorce attorney. Divorce attorneys are a critical part of the divorce team, but they are not therapists or financial experts.