Access and Parenting Time during the holidays...Whether it be Christmas time, New Years, Birthdays, Thanksgiving, Halloween, or the like, celebration times for divorced families can be very stressful.
Parents are often riddled with guilt and may even be mourning the loss of what used to be. The loss of a unit, the loss of grand gatherings, of two families, of tradition – and the same holds true for children.
It is your responsibility, as a parent, to ensure that all of these celebratory times are made special for your children. Yes, this is absolutely possible!
It is incredibly valuable to plan ahead. Make sure you and your ex spouse are clear on who will have the children and at what times. It is important to be flexible and leave room for marginal error at this time. Trust that the other parent is doing their best to keep to a schedule, even if you know that may not be the case. Now is no time to engage in battles. Think about its’ effect.
Do not lament in the fact that things are not the way they used to be. Create new traditions! Invite more people, surround yourself with friends. Extend your home to someone new, perhaps someone who adds intrigue to your celebration, comic relief, or a new storey! Play fun music. If your children are teenagers, let them invite a friend to join in at some point of the celebration.
Remember that as children grow older, they may want to join their friends for celebrations. Try not to get offended by this and instead, create compromises with your children. The key is to embrace change and listen clearly to what your children want, within reason.
Have perspective. Remember, all those families who look perfectly content, probably aren’t. This is one great fallacy! Instead of focusing on those who you perceive have it better than you, focus on those less fortunate. Make it a holiday to be charitable. Cook extra and deliver to a homeless shelter. There are so many worthy causes and having your children witness this, in you, is the ultimate in the celebratory spirit.
Remember that your greatest gift to your children, at any time, is seeing you thrive!
Canada has adopted a no-fault divorce regime. This means that you do not need to prove that your spouse did anything that would cause the breakdown of the marriage. In order to get a divorce all that you need to establish is that you have been living separate and apart from your spouse for a period of one year. It does not matter which spouse left the marriage or why.
However, if you are asking for a divorce because of adultery or mental or physical cruelty, you will need to prove whichever you are alleging.
The vast majority of divorces in Canada proceed on the basis of the one year separation.
Generally adultery or mental or physical cruelty are only relevant for the purpose of shortening the time that the parties need to be apart before a divorce will be granted. It is only in the rarest of cases where these factors affect property distribution and support outcomes.
I was confronted in this past week by a situation where a mother raised her child for over 20 years with nothing more than $200.00 per month in child support. Her child is now an adult. The father of the child has been earning an income in excess of $80,000.00 per year and should have been paying $748.00 per month. Although the father ought to have been responsible and should have increased the support voluntarily, the reality is that he did not. The recipient was underpaid by more than $20,000.00 in the past three years alone. The Court will review child support retroactively but will limit the number of retroactive years and may not review retroactively at all depending on the circumstances. The lesson is that child support should be reviewed annually by the recipient so as to ensure that the payer is paying the proper amount. The review can be as simple as collecting income information from the payer and ensuring that the amount being paid complies with the Child Support Guidelines.