Bickering relatives. Disappointed siblings. Stressed-out parents. We all grew up with some type of conflict around the holidays. When we were children, it was easy to sail past these in anticipation of gifts and great food at holiday time. As adults, we find ways to navigate the emotional land mines and try to make the celebrations as joyful as possible for our children.
However, things are different when you are divorced. As part of any New Jersey divorce that involves children, there will be a parenting plan that specifies how holidays are to be divided between parents. Variations are as different as holiday traditions, but there are several areas of potential conflict that are quite common, including:
When the holiday schedule conflicts with regular parenting time. When a holiday awarded to one parent falls during the other parent’s regularly scheduled parenting time, a conflict can occur. What you need to know is this: the holiday schedule takes precedence. In addition, the parent with the regular parenting time schedule is not entitled to extra time to make up for the missed day(s).
When parents celebrate different holidays or celebrate the holidays differently. After a divorce, each parent may revert back to the traditions they grew up with. Some families may celebrate Christmas on Christmas Eve, some may celebrate on Christmas Day, and some may start on Christmas Eve and continue the festivities on Christmas Day. While all these scenarios should be worked out in the final parenting plan during the divorce, some of these differences may be overlooked, which can lead to conflict.
When the holidays include travel. If a parent wants to travel with the children during the holiday, this could be difficult unless the other parent agrees to extend the holiday. You may want to consider a parenting plan that allows for a 24-hour period in which one parent celebrates a holiday with the children.
Hopefully, you have created a parenting plan that will allow you to bypass these issues. If not, you need to consider the following in order to minimize conflict with your holiday parenting plan:
- Identify which holidays are important to you and your family.
- Specify the exact times that define parenting time for each holiday.
- Consider which holidays may involve travel and build that into your holiday parenting plan.
- Consider whether the holiday can be incorporated into your regular parenting plan.
- Consider which holidays may not be feasible to include in a holiday parenting plan. For example, holidays like Halloween often fall on a school night so splitting that holiday may not be possible. You may need to consider alternating the holiday or provide each parent an hour or two with the children after school so you both have the opportunity to see the children in their Halloween costumes.
Co-parenting takes a lot of hard work to keep your children’s best interests at the center of your parenting plan. If you can find ways to compromise when necessary, your life and the lives of your children will be the better for it.
We know that family law issues are often difficult, life-changing events. We also know how much it helps to have knowledgeable legal advocates on your side to help you obtain the best possible outcome. Contact us today for your free consultation.