The holiday season is a time when one reflects on family more than at other times of the year. It is also a time when we look to old and comfortable memories of our childhood. Unfortunately, when you’re facing the breakup of a marriage or other relationship where children are involved, single parenting during the holidays may be difficult and painful. They’re not just difficult on you, they’re difficult for children as well.
How can I reduce the stress of single parenting during the holidays?
We all want to spend as much holiday time with our children as possible. Unwittingly, parents often add to the stress on the children by arguing over how and where the children will be spending time during the holiday season. One way to avoid a portion of the stress upon the children is to have some certainty as to when and where the children will enjoy holidays.
The courts routinely defer to the holiday schedules that parents agree upon. That is, where there is an agreement, the courts will not second-guess the parents whom they deem are acting in the best interests of their children. Too often, however, the parties cannot agree upon how the children will spend the holidays, and this becomes a traumatic experience for the families, especially the children. For this reason, the family courts, in conjunction with the Matrimonial Bar, have devised what is often labelled as a “Holidays and Special Days Parenting Time Schedule”. While not all counties follow the same schedule, the court has come up with a “bottom line” schedule for when the parents cannot agree. In fact, the schedule alternates the holidays annually, with one parent enjoying a particular holiday in odd calendar years, and the other parent enjoying the same holiday in even calendar years.
Thomas Jenkins is family lawyer in the law firm of Trace and Jenkins, LLC, located in Woodbury, New Jersey.