How to Negotiate Holiday Parenting Time After a Divorce

As a divorced parent, the holidays rarely look like the photos you see on glossy magazines and the cards sent by your married friends and family members. About 39% of first marriages in the United States end in divorce, and the rate is much higher for subsequent marriages. These tips for negotiating parenting time can be used within your custody arrangement or after the fact so that you can make happy memories during the holidays instead of stressing over who gets the kids.

Determine Priorities

Before setting up your holiday parenting schedule with the other parent of your children, determine your priorities. If you don’t celebrate Christmas, but the other parent does, then having your children on Christmas may be a lower priority for you than having them for Independence Day. If you celebrate other holidays, such as Diwali or Hanukkah, you may want to consider including those special days in your court-approved parenting arrangement.

Follow the Court Schedule

The New Jersey court system has a set holiday schedule for negotiating parenting time. The court states that these holidays take place from 10 a.m. until 7:30 p.m., although a few holidays have different set hours. The holiday visitation schedule in New Jersey includes:

  • December 24 at 6 p.m. to December 25 at 11 a.m.
  • December 25 at 11 a.m. to December 26 at 4 p.m.
  • December 31 at 6 p.m. to January 1 at 11 a.m.
  • January 1 at 11 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
  • Martin Luther King Day
  • Presidents’ Day
  • Good Friday, 10 a.m. to Easter Saturday at 4 p.m.
  • Memorial Day
  • Independence Day
  • Labor Day
  • Thanksgiving Day

The court usually requires parents to agree on a split of these special holidays. For example, your New Jersey family law attorney may propose that you get Christmas and Easter Sunday on even years, with the other parent of your children getting the kids for those holidays on odd years. If you don’t celebrate these days, you might split other holidays in a similar way.

Consider Other Important Days

If you celebrate Thanksgiving or New Year’s Day but no religious holidays, you may prefer to have your children with you on other days of importance. New Jersey law identifies other significant days that you and the other parent of your children may need to arrange. These days include:

  • Father’s birthday
  • Mother’s birthday
  • Mother’s Day
  • Father’s Day
  • Child’s birthday
  • Ramadan
  • Passover
  • Yom Kippur
  • Rosh Hashanah
  • Columbus Day
  • Halloween
  • Hanukkah
  • Kwanzaa
  • Sukkot

If the other parent is adamant about celebrating Christmas with your child, negotiate for one or more of these other days that are special to you.

Winter Break

Many people take time off work at the end of the calendar year. School districts typically give children a two-week break around Christmas and New Year’s Day. One successful way to negotiate splitting of the break is to allow the parent who has the child for Christmas Eve and Day to keep the child for the first week of winter break. The other parent keeps the child for New Year’s Eve and Day and the second week of winter break.

Ask the Kids

Children who are five years old or older may benefit from having a say in negotiating parenting time for the holidays. Perhaps the mother or the maternal side of the family has a special Christmas tradition the kids love. Maybe the father goes all-out for New Year’s Eve festivities for the kids. Everyone will be happier if the kids like the holiday parenting arrangement.

Negotiating parenting time for the holidays doesn’t have to contribute to your stress level. Working with a New Jersey family law attorney is a smart decision if conversations with the other parent of your children aren’t productive. For more tips on negotiating parenting time for the holidays or to schedule a consultation in Cherry Hill, contact Morgenstern & Rochester at (856) 489-6200, or fill out our online form today.