After nearly two decades as a New Jersey Child Custody and Divorce Attorney, I am an expert as to the difficulties people face when "co-parenting" during the holidays. With the Easter and Passover holidays having just passed, my office handled numerous holiday custody and parenting time situations. In each case, the center has been that all children involved in our cases were properly and adequately protected from any unnecessary drama.
What can be done before the holiday arrives to make sure there shall not be any problems with holiday New Jersey Custody and Parenting Time?
At my office, we take action well before any given holiday so there is a clear schedule for our client's to follow. First, we contact the other attorney to negotiate a set holiday schedule for the children and we work very closely with our client's so we are well aware of what the children's previous holidays have been like, family traditions and so forth. If this fails, we often reference a document we obtained from The Superior Court of New Jersey, Family Court, which is known as the "Court Approved Holidays Parenting Schedule." Below, please find this schedule:
The following holidays shall be alternated between the parties each year. Unless otherwise indicated those holidays shall run from 10:00 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.:
Of course, this schedule can be modified for other religions as well as to suit other cultures.
Once we have an agreement for the holiday schedule, my office prepares a document known as a Child Custody/Parenting Time Consent Order, which is signed by a Judge and has the exact same power of any other Court Order.
What if the other parent and I cannot reach an agreement?
This is a matter of timing. With enough advance warning, we can apply to the Court to have the situation evaluated and resolved by a Family Court Judge. Frequently, the Court will first attempt to resolve the matter with the Family Division Mediation Program. While this is a great program, there is no guarantee of a settlement. In that case, the Judge shall decide not only your fate but shall also be deciding how your children shall celebrate the holiday. This is one of many reasons that my N.J. Family Law Firm tries its very best to help the parties to reach an agreement that is in the nest interests of the children.
When it is clear to me that the parents are highly unlikely, due to existing "bad blood" between them, I often suggest a Parenting Time Coordinator to help them sort out the details of the holiday schedule. This is a highly sensible way of handling an emotional matter with a "business type" type mind set wherein every must have the same focus; what is best for our children this holiday? We then prepare a Consent Order Appointing a Parenting Time Coordinator.
The holidays can be a stressful time for "intact" families. For families in the middle of child custody disputes and divorces, this anxiety level can reach unbearable heights. If you find yourself facing this type of situation, we hope to hear from you so that we may lessen your stress level as you know that you have a team of lawyers on your side to protect you and make sure that your children get to enjoy their holiday in a manner they deserve.