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The First Holiday Apart (Video)

Navigating a Divorce During the Holidays

Getting a divorce can be stressful and emotional no matter what time of year it is. The holidays, though, offer some unique challenges. The media and the rest of society proclaim that togetherness and family are the most important aspects of the season, so going through a divorce can feel even more challenging.

There’s no need for the holiday season to be so hard. By preparing in advance, you can enjoy the holidays as a newly single person. Just make sure you keep the following challenges in mind while you plan for the season.

Take Your Time

You may feel like you need to get your divorce “over with” as quickly as possible to move on. While there’s certainly no reason to drag it out, trying to rush a divorce during the holidays will only add to your stress. Since many courts close more often during the holiday season, you may find yourself getting stressed about court dates and timing that you cannot change.

Similarly, there’s no rush to feel like you’re “over” your divorce. It’s a significant life change, and it’s natural to feel emotional or upset about it. Take the time you need to process the divorce and accept it; there’s no harm in a subdued holiday season while you’re processing this event.

Plan Time at Home

A common and challenging aspect of getting divorced is deciding who keeps the house if you have one. While it may be tempting to leave your shared home during the holidays and spend time somewhere else, that may not be the right course of action.

The trouble is that Oregon is an equitable division state. During a divorce, assets must be divided equitably and fairly, but not necessarily equally. If your house was bought during the marriage, that makes it marital property and subject to the division of assets. So, while you are both equally entitled to the house, in some cases moving out may be used as a reason to award the home to your former partner.

Instead, plan to spend time in your shared home regularly. Visiting your family for a few days is fine, but don’t take all your belongings with you. Leaving some things behind and making it clear that you will be back can help you defend your right to your home in the divorce.

Accept Your Parenting Time

If you and your partner are already separated and have children, then you may already have a parenting schedule in place. You may not have your children with you for this holiday season. As a newly-divorcing parent, that can be deeply upsetting. Despite that, your best course of action for this year may be to accept the schedule for this year and work to change it for next year if it feels unfair.

Parenting schedules are often court-ordered, which means that getting them changed can be time-consuming. If your former partner has your children for the holidays, they are unlikely to accept last-minute changes in your favor. Instead of trying to push through a legal change to the order, try changing how you celebrate the holidays.

Celebrate Christmas or Hannukah with your children a few days early. Celebrate New Year’s late. You can still have all the joy of the holiday even if you can’t celebrate on the day itself. Plus, your children are unlikely to complain about getting twice the holidays.

Spend Wisely

When things change and you feel unsteady, it can be all too tempting to do anything you can to feel “normal.” For many people, that means overspending to try to capture the holiday spirit. You may be tempted to buy extravagant gifts for your children, to splurge on items for yourself, or to purchase new things that you don’t actually need to present a polished image on social media. While this may temporarily make you feel better, it’s not always a wise idea, especially during a divorce.

If you are still in the process of finalizing a divorce and dividing assets, excessive spending is frowned upon. In Oregon, a statutory restraining order regarding your assets goes into effect when you file for divorce. That means that neither you nor your spouse can spend money on things other than routine daily life needs until your assets are officially divided. Overspending may be seen as a violation of this order, which may place you in contempt of court.

Instead of splurging, take some time and focus on what you actually want, not what you feel like you should do. A gift that was chosen with care is often better received than a gift that’s merely expensive. Keep your spending under control over the holidays, even during a divorce, and your wallet and future self will thank you.

Create New Traditions

Whether or not you have children, it’s helpful to make new traditions when your current holiday traditions are no longer possible. If you spent your holidays with your spouse and their family, make it a point to spend time with your own family or close friends. Watch new movies, try new foods, and take a year off from trying to live up to your own Hallmark holiday expectations.

You are regaining your freedom, after all. If you’re getting a divorce, then the relationship was not the right fit for you. Focus on the new experiences and opportunities you have instead of dwelling on the old. You may find that getting to celebrate the holidays your own way is more rewarding than you assumed.

Get Help

There’s no reason to go through a divorce alone. When you’re already facing the stress of the holiday season and the loss of your marriage, you shouldn’t have to face the court system on your own. Don’t hesitate to reach out to one of our experienced Oregon divorce attorneys this December. We can help guide you through your divorce, understand your options, and keep your divorce as low-stress as possible. You deserve a simple and easy divorce; let us help you achieve that goal.

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