Hopefully, the parents are able to speak about and discuss the holidays. But this is also generally an emotional issue, and sometimes tempers can get raised and people can get upset over the emotions of the holidays. Ideally, the parents will sit down and review what holidays are important to them. Also, they will take a look at not only a regular calendar, because there are a number of holidays that they may have missed, but more importantly, the school holidays because frequently schools are closed for other holidays and three-day weekends that parents might not necessarily celebrate, like President’s Day. They’ll determine what holidays are important to them and determine how they see their children in the future reviewing it.
They also need to sit down and discuss what traditions they believe are important to them. For example, if Christmas Eve is usually spent with one party’s family and Christmas Day is usually spent at the other person’s house, then that’s a tradition that really should continue and is important to continue. Then the question is where do the children wake up Christmas morning. Are they brought to one parent’s house every year, or is that alternated? Also important to think about is how old are the children. Do they believe in Santa Claus? Do they believe in the Easter Bunny? Do they believe in other entities that are important to them? Is it important that the children trick-or-treat with both parents? Sometimes, even put in Halloween as a holiday and determine what costume they’re going to dress the child in and what neighbourhoods they’re going to go with.
It’s very important for the parties to sit down and try to discuss it. Judges generally do not like to decide how a holiday is going to be spent unless they’re truly forced to do so. The more that the parties are able to discuss, the better it is for the children. Some people alternate holidays, some people split holidays in half. It really depends on what traditions are important to the parties and how they want to craft their traditions with their children.
Alison C. Leslie, Esq. practices family law exclusively in her Morristown, NJ offices, where she offers her clients the individualized attention of a solo practitioner with the experience of a larger firm.