When someone is first thinking about filing for divorce, they don’t often think about the lack of privacy that comes with the traditional divorce process. In New York, courtrooms are open to everyone.  Reporters may be in the courtroom, neighbors may be in the courtroom, parents from your kid’s school may be in the courtroom… you get it. An open courtroom means anyone can walk in, sit down and listen to all the gory details of your life. 

And if you’re a prominent person in any way, your story may end up on Page Six. Take, for example, the divorce of ex-New York Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. and financier Gabrielle Greene. Their attorneys may claim this is a “private” matter, yet they’ve chosen to litigate the matter in New York State Supreme Court and are scheduled to appear in court in 2 weeks. This divorce will be anything but private. 

Another recent prominent divorce involves the Dixie Chicks’ Natalie Maines. Look at the information made public in this case. In addition to disclosing the fact that her monthly expenses total approximately $50,000 per month and include $23,000 per month for her mortgage alone, we now know the values of her: 

In the blog 7 Tips for Putting Children First in a Divorce, I discussed how to have a child-centered divorce and the benefits to children. The other side of the equation is the common mistakes that parents make when they put their needs ahead of the children’s needs. 

1. Parents Making Assumptions that are NOT in Their Child’s Best Interest:

If you don’t purposely and intentionally keep the children’s needs as your top priority during the divorce, they can get lost in the process. For example, some parents recall their own experience as children of divorce and impose their feelings on their children. Don’t make assumptions. While being mindful of the difficult divorce you lived through as a child can make you more empathetic to what your children may experience, remember that your experiences and feelings may also keep you from being open to what would be best for YOUR children. For example, just because you felt that it was too hard for you to move back and forth between your parents’ homes after their divorce, start with a fresh slate, so to speak, and consider what might be best for your children. This not only means considering your kids’ unique personalities, but also the co-parenting relationship you plan to have with your soon-to-be-ex and the possibilities for your new housing arrangements. For your children, going back and forth often between two homes might be better than being away from one of their parents for an extended period. Only after you get advice about your situation and understand what your children need, should you make these decisions.

A child-centered divorce is a divorce where the parents keep the physical and emotional needs of their children as their primary concern. In a child-centered divorce, every decision the parents make is through that lens – How will this affect our children? What is important to our kids, now and in the future? Most parents intend to do what is best for their children, but their perspectives may be different. Wise parents understand that they may not know what is best for their children in this situation because they may not have ever gone through a divorce before.

Here are some tips for putting children first in a divorce to protect your children from the adverse effects of your divorce and to keep their best interest at the top of your list of priorities.

  1. Tell the Children About the Divorce Together: 

Feeling resentment is like taking poison and expecting the other person to die. Are you going through divorce and feeling resentment toward your spouse or your situation?

WATCH: How to Let Go of Resentment in Your Divorce by Family Law Attorney Andrea Vacca

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iC3ZQtMyw8A&t=1s

New eBook by Andrea Vacca: Divorce Without Court: A More Peaceful Solution

Do you assume divorce pits one spouse against the other, resulting in a nasty battle where no one actually wins and children are the collateral damage?

When most people think of divorce, they envision a courtroom slugfest and a process that drags on for years, resulting in serious financial problems, unhappy children, and lifelong resentment towards their spouse.

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

You may have come to a final written settlement agreement with your ex-spouse and maybe you’re already officially divorced, but your work as a parent to make sure your child’s holidays are happy is not finished. Here are some helpful suggestions for handling the holidays post-divorce.

Handling The Holidays Post-Divorce

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