Even after your New Jersey divorce, dealing with child custody and parenting time issues can be stressful and emotionally overwhelming. When combined with the stress that comes during the holiday season, the result can be emotionally taxing on both you and your children. The best way to avoid this, or at least lessen the stress of it, is for you and your ex-spouse to establish a detailed holiday parenting time schedule that suits your family, eliminates any ambiguity, and enables you and your children to enjoy the holidays.
When your child custody issues initially arise during your New Jersey divorce, you will have the opportunity to negotiate an agreement with your ex-spouse memorializing the parenting time schedule. At this juncture, you should consider the holidays. There are many different arrangements that you can come up with, and the best arrangement is often different for each family. In some families, the parents will alternate the holidays every year. Therefore, if the father had the children for Christmas in 2013, the mother will have the children for Christmas in 2014. In some families, one parent cares more about one holiday than the other. Therefore, if Thanksgiving is really important to the father, and Christmas is really important to the mother, then the parents can agree that every year the children will spend Thanksgiving with their father and Christmas with their mother. In other families, where the mother and father live near each other, the children will spend part of each holiday with each parent.
Only you and your spouse (or ex-spouse) know the best arrangement for your family, and, if you can look past your differences and focus on your children, you should be able to cooperate to create a very workable holiday parenting time schedule. In addition, parents should not lose sight of the fact that a divorce allows them to create new traditions with their children. For example, perhaps the father may choose to create a new tradition wherein he celebrates Christmas Eve with his children each year. Plenty of parents that have been through a New Jersey divorce will celebrate the holidays with their children when they have them, even if that means celebrating on a different day than the traditional one.
Generally, absent certain circumstances, if you and your spouse (or ex-spouse) agree to a parenting schedule, a court will use that as the custody and parenting time order. However, under Rule 5:8-5, if you and your spouse (or ex-spouse) are unable to come to an agreement, then the court will make its determination based on the best interests of the child. New Jersey does have a “standard” holiday parenting time schedule that will be ordered if the parties cannot agree to a schedule themselves, which essentially alternates each holiday between the parents, and which parent gets which holiday depends on whether it is an odd or even year.
Your New Jersey divorce lawyer will be able to work with you and help you establish a detailed holiday parenting time schedule that is best for you and your family. If you have questions or concerns about you holiday parenting time schedule, please contact the attorneys at Sarno da Costa D’Aniello Maceri LLC at 973-274-5200. Happy holidays!