Friday, December 15, 2017
News Roundup

The holiday season becomes the hurtful season

Happiness fills the holidays for most couples, but sometimes the quest for peace and goodwill goes awry.

In striving to be the perfect Santa, some parents end up with an unexpected box of agitation. The financial strains that come in this economy only heighten when mom and dad stretch their dollars.

Other lingering problems also rise to the surface. Free time away from work can mean tension time at home.

Sometimes the stress grows when you load up the kids to go over the river and through the woods to grandma's house. Dad threatens to pull the car over if they don't stop fighting in the back seat. Then mom admonishes dad.

The well-meaning relatives don't help: You guys were fighting last year. Why are you still together?

Soon, Joy To The World gives way to joyless assessments. Husbands and wives come to the sad realization that Frosty the Snowman is no match for a frosty relationship. An annual assessment comes with the new year and some decide the best resolution is a dissolution.

It's all too familiar for family law attorneys, who will tell you January always brings an increase in divorce filings. Business swells the first Monday kids go back to school.

"People decide they don't want to start the year doing what they did last year," said Ingrid Hooglander, a Brandon attorney who has practiced family law for 11 years. "It's, 'I'm not spending another Christmas with this person.' They want to do something new and if that means walking away from their spouse that's what they do."

• • •

Mark Moon, another family law attorney in Brandon, said there is a definite correlation between the holidays, which can be a crucible, and the desire to act on New Year's resolutions.

"They want the kids to remember the holidays with fond memories," Moon said. "If all they remember is a Christmas of mom and dad fighting, it causes them to re-evaluate. 'What am I really doing here? Is this in the best interests of children?' "

Of course, making such a life-altering decision with recently frayed holiday nerves requires careful consideration. Moon says he goes through an extensive process of educating the potential client about Florida divorce law, exploring how they will deal with the mental aspects of turning their lives inside-out and, finally, inquiring if it's a necessary step because of domestic abuse.

Hooglander noted that she encourages counseling and establishing certainty because once a spouse begins the process, reconciliation grows increasingly difficult.

"You can't unring the bell and it breaks a lot of trust once you start going down this path," Hooglander said.

James Messina, a licensed psychologist and marriage counselor in Tampa, cautioned that over-inflated expectations for the season can result in holiday blues.

"It's probably not the best time to make any decision," Messina said. "You have to say, 'Slow it down. (Revisit) this in six months.' "

Messina added that some couples spend more time communicating during the holidays and that's why they decide to break up. He suggests spending time talking outside of the holidays.

It's good advice, but I suspect this trend won't slow. I'm saddened that the season of joy can turn into the winter of discontent. It may be for the best, but before taking that giant leap, step back and reflect. Be sure.

After all, it's supposed to be a time of hope.

That's all I'm saying.

Comments

When Brenda Terry was 16 and living in St. Louis, she was a hostess and food runner at a sports bar where female employees wore cute, little cheerleading skirts. One night, she said, a patron grabbed her crotch. She ran to her management team and the...
Updated: 11 minutes ago

Editorial: Warren’s smart approach on guns, domestic violence

Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren would make it safer for victims and police alike with his plan to remove firearms from defendants charged with domestic violence. These cases are toxic enough, and having guns at the ready only adds to a dang...
Updated: 11 minutes ago
Editorial: St. Petersburg council right to reject Bayfront deal

Editorial: St. Petersburg council right to reject Bayfront deal

The St. Petersburg City Council made the difficult but correct decision this week to reject the proposed sale of a local nonprofit’s minority stake in Bayfront hospital. Despite months of negotiations, there were too many questions, a few suspicions ...
Updated: 17 minutes ago
Deputies: Plant City men fled in stolen car, shot dog, hid in swamp

Deputies: Plant City men fled in stolen car, shot dog, hid in swamp

DOVER — Two Plant City men who ran from deputies and shot a dog were captured after a brief pursuit Thursday, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.They ditched the stolen car, ran away on foot, crossed through several yards and then ...
Updated: 19 minutes ago

FHP: Overturned vehicle reported on northbound Howard Frankland

ST. PETERSBURG — Drivers should avoid the northbound Howard Frankland Bridge for a while: The Florida Highway Patrol is responding to a report of an overturned vehicle there.The incident was reported at 2:11 p.m. on northbound Interstate 275, near mi...
Updated: 27 minutes ago
Traffic grew heavy, and so did contractions, so Plant City mom delivers in car

Traffic grew heavy, and so did contractions, so Plant City mom delivers in car

BRANDON — Christine Stallworth had experienced false labor before so she decided to ignore the contractions she was feeling Thursday as she and her husband Clifford drove their two boys from home in Plant City to school in Tampa.But this time, 10 day...
Updated: 27 minutes ago
Self-serve beer bar opens Saturday in downtown St. Pete

Self-serve beer bar opens Saturday in downtown St. Pete

Pour Taproom, a craft beer bar with 85 taps that customers pour their own brew from, will open at noon on Saturday, Dec. 16. The nearly 2,300-square-foot bar at 225 Second Ave. N has undergone extensive renovations, including a St. Petersburg-themed...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Pinellas sheriff’s investigator fired, could face criminal charges for involvement in child custody battle

Pinellas sheriff’s investigator fired, could face criminal charges for involvement in child custody battle

LARGO — A Pinellas sheriff’s child protective investigator has been fired and could face criminal charges after an investigation found she made a child custody recommendation to a judge as a favor to a friend.Jayne Johnson, who has worked for the She...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Hillsborough school district and its teachers are at a bargaining impasse, but still talking

Hillsborough school district and its teachers are at a bargaining impasse, but still talking

TAMPA — A months-long conflict over planned pay raises has moved to a new phase with the Hillsborough Classroom Teachers Association declaring a bargaining impasse with the public school district.The two sides, which began negotiations in late spring...
Updated: 1 hour ago

AOL Instant Messenger is no more, and it’s okay your inner 13-year-old is crying

Saying goodbye to an old friend stings.On the morning of Dec. 15, 2017, AOL Instant Messenger died.Take a moment to allow the 13-year-old inside of you let out a deep sob; think about the bulletin you wish you could post to your MySpace page about ho...
Updated: 1 hour ago