Posts Tagged ‘separation’

5 Tips for Navigating Holidays for Blended Families

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Sandra Guzman Nov 2017

The holidays are full of wonderful things – gifts, good food, carols, nights by the fire, and family time. But the desire to have that “perfect” holiday season can cause a great deal of stress for parents, especially those with blended families. Here are 5 things to remember when navigating a holiday season that’s full of step relatives, parenting time changes, and potential conflict:

Plan Ahead

You can’t possibly do everything you want to do in a holiday season, even under ideal household conditions. But planning becomes even more important when you have to navigate multiple households and changes of parenting time that may come smack-dab in the middle of a possible holiday celebration. Begin thinking about and discussing holiday plans with extended family members well in advance so you can make sure all important players will be present at planned celebrations. Communicate these plans to your children as early and often as possible, as knowing who they will be with when, and when and where holiday celebrations will take place, can help ease some of the stress and heightened emotions they may be feeling surrounding the split holiday. [1]

Leave Space for Emotions

The disappointment of having to let go of old family traditions can be upsetting for family members of any age. Take the time to listen to any worries that you children, spouse, parents, or other extended family members may have surrounding the holiday. Even if you can’t do anything about their concerns, simply being heard can help everyone have a more pleasant season. Your children may experience a great deal of conflicting emotions surrounding the holidays, even if they’re seasoned blended family veterans, as spending time with one parent means missing out on celebrations and time with the other parent. Allow your children the time to be sad or regretful. Reassure them that they will be missed when not around, and give them permission to enjoy any celebrations that may occur with their other parent. [2]

Develop New Traditions

It’s impossible to maintain every former holiday tradition as household circumstances change. Your family may have to give up attending that special holiday event that only happens on one day because everyone may not be together. Take a little time to grieve the events and traditions you can no longer uphold, then begin searching for new ones. When appropriate, get input from your children on things they would like to do during the holiday season. After a couple years attending the same event or taking part in the same activity as a family, it will become a new tradition which will be anticipated by everyone. [3]

Don’t Compete

Especially if your family is newly blended, the temptation to create the “perfect” holiday can be intense. Don’t get caught up in attempting to outdo the other parent with gifts, traditions, or anything else. Competing can only lead to more loyalty conflicts for your children, causing more emotional upheaval. If your co-parenting relationship with the other parent is settled enough, consider coordinating gift-giving between households, with each parent or family member choosing off a central wish list. When your children prepare to head to the other parent’s house for a holiday celebration, tell them to have fun and that you look forward to them returning. This will help them feel secure in their ability to enjoy time with the other parent and have a positive experience. [1]

Be Flexible

There’s no written law that says that families have to celebrate a holiday on a particular day. What’s most important during the holidays is everyone getting together to enjoy spending time together. If you are unable to get everyone together on Christmas Day, for example, due to schedules, celebrate on a different day. Your children will enjoy having the holiday season spread out a little longer, and not attempting to cram everything into a few days’ time will help relieve everyone’s stress. [2]

Though maneuvering through life as a blended family presents its own unique challenges at any time of the year, the holidays can be an especially difficult time for everyone involved. Keeping the most important things in mind – The ability to spend quality time together as a family and maintaining the well-being of your children – and avoiding some major possible pitfalls can help everyone have a happy, enjoyable holiday season.

[1] Sam Quick, “Celebrating the Holidays as a Blended Family.”
[2] Operation: PARENT, “Holidays as a Blended Family.”
[3] Today’s Parent, “5 tips for celebrating the holiday with a blended family.”

The Emotional Ride of Infidelity

infidelityIn today’s society, couples get married for a number of different reasons. Some of these motivators include finances, companionship, to have children and of course, for love. Although any of these might provide the initial incentive to walk down the aisle, it doesn’t always guarantee a happy ending. A study done by the Associated Press, “Journal of Marital and Family Therapy,” indicates that 41% of all men and women will cheat on their spouse. [2]

If you are dealing with infidelity then your most pressing question is, “How can I understand my feelings and move towards a solution?” In order to heal from the pain you are feeling, you must first understand this pain is much like grieving from the loss of a loved one and you will encounter many emotional stages in the process.

The Stages of Dealing with Infidelity

Let’s take a look at the different stages you may go through and how to move forward:

Stop. This is probably the most important step. At this point you probably just found out about the deception. You may be in denial and it’s hard to believe this has even happened. You may have moved on to anger and are feeling resentful towards your spouse. Let yourself be angry, cry and scream even. It’s okay to feel this. However, it’s important not to make any irrational decisions and give yourself enough time to process it. [1]

Reflect. Now that you have probably calmed down, you are most likely feeling confused and desperate for an answer. You may start asking yourself what has brought your spouse to this point.  You may start looking to yourself to see if you have neglected a fundamental need of your spouse. It is very easy to get depressed and blame yourself. However, do not blame yourself or stay in a prolonged depression. Everyone is responsible for their own actions and you should believe that it is not your fault and that you will get through this. Do what you need to do to get over feeling depressed. That can involve talking to family and friends, seeing a therapist/psychologist, getting back in touch with your church or temple, and its members, and/or medication based on the recommendations of your psychologist.

Accept. This has happened and there’s no way to pretend it hasn’t. Understand that this will be a journey, a process, and there is no easy fix. Analyze your feelings and prepare to take action towards a solution.

Ask. By this point you will have tons of unanswered legal questions. Our Law Offices at Sandra Guzman-Salvado can provide answers and options in order to move forward. Understand that your spouse may not agree that he/she has done something wrong or even understand how you may be feeling. However, if you and your spouse are willing to talk, you can talk about how you will move forward separately.

You should discuss what will happen with the children, home, cars, accounts, support for the child or children, support for yourself, property, and anything of value. If you are able to reach agreements about these things, we can draft a Separation and Property Settlement Agreement. This will save a lot of time and money for both of you, and it will make it easier to move on.

If you hire our firm to draft the separation agreement, your spouse will receive a copy of the agreement and he or she can take that to any other attorney to review before signing. Your spouse can simply sign it before a notary with you, after you, or before you. This document, fully executed, will be filed with the court once the divorce is commenced. You should expect the legal process to be much less time consuming and expensive if you go this route.

If the communication between you and your spouse is not possible, you may consider simply filing for divorce, custody, and support. In Maryland, you do not have to be living separate and apart to file for divorce if you have sufficient evidence that adultery occurred. Although the case may start out contested, it is possible that the case will settle once your spouse has the chance to discuss the issues with an attorney, been advised, or when opportunities to settle the case present themselves. Generally, once a litigant realizes how much time and money is involved to litigate a highly contested case, he or she realizes that it is not worth prolonging a resolution.

If you decide you would like to pursue a divorce, based on adultery, proof of adultery may include but is not limited to:

  • Pictures and videos of your spouse with the other person being affectionate with each other, or coming out of a hotel together
  • Emails where they reference their last or upcoming encounter
  • Witnesses that have seen them together
  • Admissions from your spouse via text or voicemail message
  • Receipts for purchases to another person
  • Proof of travel to a destination where the lover resides

Move On. Even though your world may have turned upside down by this point, it doesn’t mean your future can’t be great. Going through trials can be painful, but you can always learn from pain. If you have decided to proceed with litigation, you should know that there is still a future ahead of you and adventures await you even if it does not feel like you will ever recover.



[1] About Relationships, “How to Cope When You’ve Learned Your Spouse Is Unfaithful.” (March 10, 2016).

[2] Statistic Brain, “Infidelity Statistics.”

[3] Psych Central, “The 5 Stages of Loss and Grief.”  (October 6, 2015).

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