Deciding where to spend your holiday can be tough, especially with large, blended families, who may have custody arrangements or separation agreements to work around. For children of divorce, splitting time between parents can be hard at Christmas and New Year’s, and complications and arguments can easily crop up between parents and kids. Family attorneys in New Jersey recommend that parents plan ahead to avoid problems and have a smooth, happy holiday.
In New Jersey, custody after divorce is usually determined with special consideration of the best interests of the children involved. Judges and family lawyers usually recommend that divorcing couples consider joint custody, to ensure that their children will be able to spend time with both parents. In general, a judge considers each parents’ wishes, the children’s’ age, the relationships between both parents and the children, the ability of each parent to provide stable and loving care, and the willingness of each parent to support a relationship between their children and the other parent.
Although joint custody is the best option for parents who want to share quality time with their kids after their divorce, it can make things difficult when planning holiday time. Most joint custody arrangements are decided out of court, with the co-parents creating a reasonable working schedule throughout the year, but the month of December is packed with parties, festivities, and other holiday events that both parents want to share with their kids. A joint holiday custody schedule is the best way to establish a working system to maximize quality time between homes.
Parents who share joint custody often have trouble finding a routine during the holiday season, because these days only come once a year, and it can be hard to remember who did what the year before. Family lawyers in New Jersey recommend that co-parents keep track of previous holiday arrangements, either with schedules or online calendar tools. If one arrangement seems to work best, be sure to note how visits were scheduled and organized, and try to incorporate a similar situation in this year’s plan.
To keep your holiday co-parenting schedule fair, family lawyers suggest that both parties sit down and have a calm, rational, civil discussion about plans for the holiday season and what days are most important. Having breakfast at mom’s house, and then eating dinner at Dad’s later that afternoon, may be a good way to share the the actual day of Christmas and New Year’s, and other events like parties, school pageants, or other family gatherings can be divided as evenly as possible. Lawyers also recommend taking the time to plan out holidays that both parents celebrate for the rest of the year—ranking events such as Independence Day, Halloween, and birthdays in order of importance can provide a basis for a rotating schedule that switches from year to year.
It is crucial that parents sharing custody plan ahead and keep the lines of communication open throughout the holiday season, to ensure that the established joint custody holiday schedule goes smoothly. If you need help planning your holiday arrangements, the family attorneys at New Jersey law firm Helmer, Conley, and Kasselman, PA can offer consultation and advice on the best ways to make the most of your time with your family this year.