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Parenting plan focus: religion, holidays and time sharing

Parenting plans in a Florida divorce can cover a lot of ground, and they are meant to do so.

Indeed, a well-considered and comprehensive parenting plan ensures that, first of all, both parents have taken the time to fully visit and reach agreement on the centrally important matters relating to their children. Doing so, and setting forth understandings in a clearly drafted and responsive agreement, can reduce conflict down the road, as well as minimize judicial involvement in family matters. Courts are more than merely happy to see such plans; in fact, they insist upon them.

A parenting plan covers many contingencies. Parental responsibilities are spelled out, as are details concerning child custody, visitation and time-sharing arrangements.

Although not a central topic in every parenting plan, the subject of religion can certainly loom large for many families, especially when parents differ in their views regarding the same faith or come from different religious traditions.

In tandem with that consideration is the question in some divorced families surrounding where the kids will be and who they will be with on specific religious-related holidays. As one family law writer recently noted, that can be especially true in the United States concerning Christmas, “because no holiday holds more psychic weight on the parenting front.”

Conversely, notes Huffington Post contributor Margaret Klaw, it can be easier to deal with time sharing during holidays with a religious cast in cases where former spouses come from different faiths. In other words, a Jewish parent, for example, might completely see the logic in the kids spending Christmas with a Christian parent. And that parent can reciprocally note why the children can optimally benefit from spending Hanukkah with a Jewish parent.

Things aren’t always so simple, of course, with time sharing over the holidays -- notwithstanding whether religion is an issue -- sometimes being a matter marked by both stress and contention.

An experienced family law attorney can help dampen the pressures associated with the holidays by helping former spouses negotiate common ground and setting forth in a clearly written legal agreement parental responsibilities that will best promote the children’s interests.

Source: Huffington Post, "He got Christmas," Margaret Klaw, Dec. 9, 2013

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