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3 Ways Divorced Parents Can Handle Child Custody During the Holiday Season

October 31, 2023 | Posted In Family Law

Whether you are recently divorced or thinking about how a divorce could impact your family life in the future, the holiday season is a time when many questions start coming into focus. As a parent, spending time with your children is what matters most—but this isn’t always possible when you and your former spouse have parted ways.

How Do Parents Deal with Child Custody During Thanksgiving and Christmas?

“How can I make sure I will be able to spend the holidays with my children?” This is one of the most common questions we receive from parents who are contemplating a divorce. The short answer is, “It depends.” Every family’s situation is unique, and the options you have available depend on your individual circumstances. But you do have options available, and you can make sure you choose the best option for you and your family by working with an experienced New Jersey family lawyer.

With all of that said, most holiday-related custody arrangements follow one of three general approaches. The most common ways divorcing parents approach holiday-related child custody include:

1. Dividing Time with Your Children During the Holidays

Many divorcing parents choose to divide the time they spend with their children during the holidays. This is a very common approach, as it allows both parents to spend time with their children during each holiday every year. For example, we commonly help our clients establish custody arrangements that provide the following:

  • The children spend the night before Thanksgiving with one parent and then spend Thanksgiving Day with the other.
  • The children spend Christmas Eve with one parent and then spend Christmas Day with the Other (this may be the opposite of Thanksgiving).
  • The children spend part of Thanksgiving Day or Christmas Day with one parent before spending the rest of the day with the other.

2. Alternating Holidays from Year to Year

Another fairly common approach is for parents to alternate holidays from year to year. For example, one parent may get Thanksgiving one year and then get Christmas the next. This provides each parent with more time during “their” holidays, and this approach can be particularly desirable when the parents won’t live close to one another after their divorce.

3. Spending the Holidays Together After Your Divorce

A third option is for parents to continue spending the holidays together after their divorce. Coparenting—where parents continue to jointly spend time with their children post-divorce—is becoming increasingly common. While this approach doesn’t work for everyone, it can be great under the right circumstances. If you are interested in co-parenting, we encourage you to contact us to learn more.

Important Considerations if You Are Contemplating a Divorce in New Jersey

If you are contemplating a divorce in New Jersey, it will be important to ensure that you are making informed decisions as you move forward. As a result, it’s great that you are thinking about these kinds of questions now. Getting divorced requires flexibility, and if you know what you want, you can work with your New Jersey family lawyer to structure a custody arrangement that works for you during the holidays.

Of course, your spouse will have a say as well. In addition to flexibility, getting divorced also inherently requires compromise. Fortunately, when it comes to child custody, divorcing parents will often (though not always) have certain interests in common, and there are a variety of options for coming to terms amicably without going to court.

Important Considerations if You Are Planning for the Holidays As a Divorced Parent

What if you are already divorced? If you aren’t sure about your custody rights during the holidays, or if you are concerned about your former spouse violating your custody rights, the first place to look is your divorce settlement agreement. Your agreement should clearly outline both parents’ custody rights, and it should also specify the means for resolving any custody-related disputes. With that said, if you have questions, you should not hesitate to ask—and if you need help enforcing your rights during the holidays, you should speak with a New Jersey family lawyer as soon as possible.

Speak with a New Jersey Family Lawyer in Confidence

Do you have questions about how to handle child custody during the holidays? If so, we can help, and we invite you to get in touch. To speak with a New Jersey family lawyer at Helmer, Conley & Kasselman, P.A. in confidence, please call 877-435-6371 or request a consultation online today.

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