Local News

Holidays Painful for Children of Divorced Parents

Posted Updated
Switch to classic wral.com
A holiday dispute has arisen between the parents of 17-year-old Joy Myers.
RALEIGH — Most people spend time with their familiesover the holidays, but for families in which a divorce has occurred, theholidays can be especially difficult for children. Frequently they arein the middle of a battle over who gets the kids.

Divorce lawyers and therapists get a lot of frantic calls at this timeof year from parents who are battling with their ex-spouses over theirchildren. Parents get sentimental and they want to be with their children. During the holidays resulting conflicts can get ugly.

Gail Killough only has a picture of her 17-year-old daughter Joy tokeep her company over the holidays this year, because Gail's father JohnMyers has the real thing.

Although the couple has joint custody, John says their daughter Joydoesn't want to be with her mother and he won't force her to.

For Joy, the choice appears to lie somewhere in between the two sides.

Kids like Joy are often stuck in the middle between divorced parents.Counselors such as Family Therapist Dianne Occhetti say this type ofemotional tug of war can be devastating toa child.

Attorney Mark Sullivan says family lawyers also become immersed inthese controversies. He suggests parents communicate and come up with afair way to divide the child's time.

Lawyers and therapists suggest having a definite plan in place concerning the children's whereabouts during the holidays, includingspecific times for exchanges.

It's important,they say, for everyone to know the plan and to stick toit. That builds trust between the parents and gives the kids somestability. Coming up with the plan well in advance of the holidays alsohelps everyone avoid additional stress.

Photographer:Joe Frieda