The holidays are an important time of year for parents, and they normally want to spend them with their children. However, when a child's parents are no longer together, handling parenting time during the holidays can be a real challenge. New Jersey courts will generally accept any parenting time schedule that both parents agree to, but it can still be difficult for parents to decide how to divide the holidays.
What is Parenting Time?
Parenting time in New Jersey refers to the time a child spends with each parent. All parents who get divorced or pursue child custody cases are required to submit parenting plans to the court in which they state how they would like parenting time and legal decision-making to be handled. A parenting plan will also need to include a holiday parenting schedule.
Parents can negotiate with each other to develop a parenting plan that works for both of them or submit individual parenting plans to the court. Any parenting plan and parenting time schedule will need to be in the best interests of the child.
Why Holiday Parenting Time Schedules Are Important
Having a plan for the holidays allows both parents and the children to know what to expect, and can reduce the stress associated with the uncertainty of not having a schedule. Creating a parenting schedule for the holidays also helps to avoid arguments that might arise. Children deserve the opportunity to spend time with all relatives during the holidays, and parenting plans give both parents the ability to plan their holiday festivities around their parenting time.
Holiday Parenting Time Arrangements
There are a few different ways to create a holiday parenting time schedule. Some parents share major holidays while celebrating minor ones during their regular parenting time with their children, and others alternate significant holidays each year. Parents who have amicably ended their relationships might even choose to celebrate holidays together with their children, but that is significantly less common. Here are common ways that parents might create holiday parenting time schedules.
Many divorced parents choose to alternate holidays on odd or even years. For example, one parent might have their child on the holidays during even years while the other parent has the child on holidays during odd years. Alternating holidays help parents have more freedom with their holiday plans and take away the pressure from children to rush through celebrations at one home before going to the other.
Some people decide to alternate major holidays while also agreeing to spend specific holidays with one parent. For example, a child's mother may get the child every year on Mother's Day regardless of whether the day is during the Father’s regular parenting time. Similarly, the child may spend every Father’s Day with their father.
Some parents choose to split time on major holidays with their children. The child might spend half of the day with one parent and then go to the other parent's home to celebrate there. Other parents might choose to divide up time depending on the holiday. For example, a child might spend Thanksgiving Day at one parent's and then go to the other parent's home to celebrate on the following day.
Modifying Holiday Parenting Time Agreements
As children grow, things might change, and parenting time arrangements are always subject to modification based on a change in circumstances. In the event of a change in circumstances where the other party does not agree to modify parenting time, including holiday parenting time, a motion may need to be filed to enable the court to determine whether a modification will be ordered. A family law attorney at Simon, O'Brien, & Knapp can help you to properly draft modifications to your parenting plan and, if a motion is necessary, represent you in court if the other parent does not agree to the proposed changes.
Work With Experienced Family Law Attorneys
If you are going through a child custody dispute or a divorce, a family law attorney at Simon, O'Brien, & Knapp can help you to figure out a holiday parenting schedule that works for both you and your ex as well as your children.
Contact us today for help with your parenting plan by calling us at (973) 604-2224.