This time of year is often full of celebrations and good times. However, it is often a time of great stress. This is especially true for families that are going through the divorce process or have concluded the process. Parenting is a big issue in virtually every case I have handled where there are children. Parenting time becomes even more highlighted during the holidays. The reality is that many of the pre-divorce traditions must change as the parents are no longer residing under one roof.
How to make holiday parenting time decisions easier to deal with
I often receive calls from frantic parents who are trying to resolve holiday parenting time at the last minute. As with most major issues in life, waiting to the last minute is never a good idea. These phone calls do not come from my current or prior clients and I’ll explain why later.
Once the caller tells me the issue they are calling about is holiday parenting time, I have a standard question: What does your Agreement say? Whether it be your final Marital Settlement agreement or an interim order, the language of any such document concerning holiday parenting time governs. Sadly, I often hear “What agreement” or “We didn’t address that” in response to my inquiry. Creating clear and detailed parenting time plans is a crucial part of resolving your case. Doing so provides guidance and avoids conflicts in the future. The reason my clients don’t frantically call me on Christmas Eve is because we have carefully constructed language in their Agreement to address such an event.
What to do if there are no Orders in place or if your Agreement is silent as to holiday parenting time?
If you find yourself without any guidance you must act quickly! Frankly, if you are reading this post it is all but too late to have the court intervene. In New Jersey, family court motions are heard on a 24 day cycle. If you haven’t’ filed a motion yet its too late for this Christmas. But you should proceed with putting plans in place for future holidays. To make things easier the Court has created a generic schedule that can be adopted or modified as may be appropriate in any given case. court-holiday-pt-schedule
The best course of action is to make sure this topic is properly dealt with during the divorce. The second best option is work with your former spouse in a constructive and respectful manner and remain focused on the children,