“We wish you a merry Christmas and a happy divorce,” is a holiday greeting that many Florida couples would rather not hear, but it is a reality for those who filed for dissolution of marriage before December. Even an amicable divorce filing may not be finalized before the end of the year due to reduced staffing at the county courthouses, and thus it is up to each spouse to deal with the prospect of spending the holidays with their divorce looming.

For spouses who do not have children or whose adult children no longer live at home, spending the holidays apart from each other would serve as a preview of what their lives will be like in the future. If giving presents for in-laws is an established holiday tradition, spouses may do so for a final time, but they should try to avoid awkward social interactions.

Things are more difficult with young children; while their interests should come first during the holidays, this could be a good time to start thinking about the future in terms of visitation. One idea would be to split holiday celebrations into Christmas Eve and Christmas Day so that children do not miss out on spending time with their grandparents, aunts and uncles; to this effect, being flexible in lieu of being selfish is paramount.

Spouses should agree to refrain from bickering during the holidays, and they should not talk about divorce issues such as child custody and parental relocation until after New Year’s Day. Whenever spouses feel that their partners are being unreasonably difficult during the holidays, they may inquire with their attorneys as to how they should handle these situations adequately without making them worse.