Judge’s Corner

Holidays for Children


by Sandy Karlan, Esq., Former Circuit Court Judge

It’s the holiday season and no matter what holiday you celebrate, we have all come to expect that these will be joyous, fun-filled happy family occasions. Right?

But that is not always so for everyone and it is certainly not the experience of many children in families who are in the midst of divorces or other breakups. This is particularly true for one child I met, whose parents had divorced and one lived in Miami and the other in New York. They had a parenting plan with detailed vacation schedules however, the parents never lost their animosity for one another and so they often appeared in my courtroom to resolve time sharing issues.

This one December, the parent who lived in New York, filed an emergency motion because the parent in Miami was refusing to send their daughter to New York. I set the matter for an emergency hearing and heard from both parents. Then I spoke with their daughter, Natalie (not her real name) who was 17 at the time.

I asked her to tell me what she was experiencing and what she wanted to do and I have never forgotten her response.

“Judge Karlan, do whatever you want because it really doesn’t matter. Every year when my friends get presents for Christmas, I always get a court hearing,” I have never forgotten that moment or her words and they have guided me for the many years that I have been involved in family cases. I have told many parents this story in the hope that they would realize what their children are experiencing.

I don’t know if it has made a difference however it made a difference to this judge.

Don’t forget the children this holiday season. Make it easy for them!