The Legal Insider

November 2017

How to Share Custody During the Holidays

For divorced parents, the holidays can be especially stressful. It's hard enough to coordinate custody schedules with your ex, but add in the emotions of wanting to spend the holidays with your children, and it's a double whammy. Negotiations are always easier when the playing field is friendly, and fair. The following are a few tips to help you both get what you want, keep your kids content, and the resentments to a minimum:

How to Share Custody During the Holidays
  1. Don't make your children choose who to spend the holiday with - This puts too much responsibility on your kids' shoulders. You two are the adults, so you decide.
  2. Don't make plans without checking with your ex first - Hopefully, you already have a holiday visitation schedule in place. If you don't, be honest and upfront about what you want, and listen to their wishes.
  3. Negotiate and compromise - If you are dead-set on certain dates, don't overreact if they don't agree. Calmly assess the situation, and compromise. If you want them for the week of Christmas, ask your ex if they are ok with Thanksgiving and the New Year. Next year, you could trade off. There is always a solution, so try to keep your negotiations civil.
  4. Split the date - If you live close, you could split the day into a morning/early afternoon shift and afternoon/evening shift. This takes a little coordination, but it allows everyone to spend time with one another.
  5. Get together - This isn't for everyone, but if you are on friendly-enough terms, you could have an afternoon of football and Thanksgiving with the whole family, or spend Christmas morning together.

The most important tip above all, is to keep your kids and their needs first. They shouldn't ever be caught in the middle of adult disputes. Splitting time is hard on everyone, and fighting will only make it worse. Keep it simple, keep it civil, and enjoy the time that you do get to spend with your kids, together.

Fire Risk: Cooking Your Thanksgiving Turkey

For those unlucky turkeys who didn't receive a Presidential pardon, the third Thursday of each November is a risky one—and not just for the gobblers. Deep-frying a bird, or birds if we're talking ‘turducken,' has become a popular method of preparing the main course. However, it can quickly become unpopular when the fire department is called. Any time a vat of boiling grease has the potential to light your house on fire, you might want to take a few precautions.

During the holiday season, insurance claims associated with Thanksgiving jump 15%, while fires caused by deep frying turkeys jump a whopping 300%. The average insurance claim for these fires is around $29,000, so make sure your homeowners insurance is current before dipping your bird in hot oil.

Fire Risk: Cooking Your Thanksgiving Turkey

Homeowners insurance typically does cover structural fires, but you will want to check your fire insurance for other coverage. For instance, the contents of your home, e.g., clothing and furniture, may or may not be covered. If they are covered, you may only receive reimbursement for what they cost, not for the cost to replace them. Check the front page of your policy, and take note of the following tips to prevent an accident:

  • Do not use fryer in an enclosed area, and this includes your garage.
  • Do not overfill the fryer.
  • Use safety gear.
  • Thaw turkey completely before frying.
  • Keep the fryer on a flat surface.
  • Never throw water on a grease fire, and keep an extinguisher nearby.

Just taking a few extra steps can keep the flames away from your home, your bird a dining table masterpiece, and the drama of Thanksgiving left to your in-laws.

Dangers of Over-the-Top Holiday Decorations

If you are planning on outdoing Clark Griswold this holiday season with a fantastic display of holiday cheer, we have a few words of caution to keep you, your neighborhood, and even cousin Eddie safe. Common sense goes a long way in preventing mishaps that could start a fire, cause someone to trip or fall off a ladder, and even prevent a visit from law enforcement.

Dangers of Over-the-Top Holiday Decorations
  • Beware of overloaded electrical outlets. Use extension cords and power strips that are safe for outdoor use.
  • Use a wooden or fiberglass ladder; metal ladders are electricity conductors, and if you're going big with your display, you don't want your December morphing into the 4th of July.
  • Always have a decorating/safety buddy. This could prove priceless, especially when using a ladder for 2nd story light strands.
  • Do not put nails through wires.
  • Beware of dry trees. Water the tree well often, and if you like candles, only use them if they're battery-operated.
  • If you have lasers, keep them pointed downward. You don't want the FBI after you for plane harassment.
  • Even if you don't like your neighbors, avoid loud decorations and lights that affect their quality of life.
  • Make sure front lawn decorations are secure. If you have admirers, you don't want to be held responsible for someone's grandma tripping over Frosty the Snowman.
  • Turn everything off when you go to bed or earlier if you're a night owl.

If your decorating skills are of rubberneck quality, we salute your dedication to the holiday spirit. You get the rest of us fired up to cruise around neighborhoods and sip hot chocolate, gazing admirably at creations that would make even Clark Griswold proud. Happy decorating to you, the rest of us look forward to seeing the season of light string artistry.

How to Prepare for Black Friday

There are some of us that wouldn't step foot near a retail establishment the day following Thanksgiving, and then there are those who live for the deals. This is for you, brave bargain shoppers of the world.

Camping out in front of your favorite big box store waiting to score a cheap 50” TV isn't quite as exciting as the evening before the running of the bulls, but the chaos of people and bovine stampedes is arguably similar. Both are very dangerous, and can be deadly. Injuries have become commonplace, and in 2013, a temporary Walmart employee was trampled to death by a mob of shoppers in Valley Stream, New York.

How to Prepare for Black Friday

Businesses can be held liable for injury, particularly if they did nothing to prevent it, or participated in behavior that could instigate chaos. For instance, by putting on a sale of a video game where only five copies are made available, it's reasonably foreseeable that a problem could develop. If the store is not prepared for large crowds and doesn't take precautions to prevent premises liability, they could be in serious trouble if a mob strikes.

Shoppers can also be held liable for their behavior. Fistfights and pepper spray could land bargain hunters in hot water, too. If you want to stay safe, try to avoid massive crowds and sales that seem to attract a greater amount of people. If you do find yourself in a large crowd, keep your purse close your body and your wallet in your front pocket. Not only are there pickpockets, but credit card theft is now commonplace. Try to use only one card, so if it is stolen, you'll be able to contain it more quickly.

If shopping from the comfort of your own home sounds more enjoyable, you're in luck. Black Friday happens online as well, with round two on Cyber Monday. Happy hunting, get those deals before they're gone!