Holiday parenting time is one of the more contentious issues in New Jersey child custody disputes. The holidays of course are a wonderful time, but they also tend to be wrought with emotional baggage and stress.
Our East Brunswick child custody attorneys know these issues are best discussed and settled long before the holidays begin. That way, there is less question as to the expectations of both parents – which in turn makes the whole process much smoother for children and eliminates the prospect of further litigation.
New Jersey law has specific guidelines for how parents can navigate holiday parenting time. Understand that you are always free to work with your ex-spouse to create a custody and visitation schedule – including holidays – on your own. However, if it’s not incorporated into the court-approved parenting time schedule, those informal agreements can’t be enforced if one of you doesn’t uphold your end of the bargain. When there is a point of contention (or several points of contention), you may need to explore the possibility of talking with a family law attorney who can help you craft an agreement where the terms are clear and enforceable.
Holiday Visitation Schedule
Courts recognize how special holidays are to children and families, and that not all parents can agree how they should be spent. That’s why Rule 5:8-5 spells out that in any action where parties cannot agree to the parenting time or visitation arrangement, parents need to each file a Custody and Parenting Time/ Visitation Plan. The court considers that when fixing a parenting time or visitation schedule.
The contents of that parenting plan will include a specific schedule for visitation time, which will include legal holidays, religious holidays, school vacations, birthdays and other special occasions, such as family outings, religious services and extracurricular activities.
Failure to comply with these provisions can result in the dismissal of the non-complying parent’s pleadings or other sanctions (or both). That’s why it’s very important to have an experienced family law attorney in East Brunswick help you in carefully formulating the plan or modifying it.
A sample of the holiday scheduling might be that during odd-numbered years, non-custodial parents will be entitled to spend time with their children on:
- Martin Luther King Junior Day;
- July 4th;
- Christmas Day.
In those years, the custodial parent will have the following holidays with the child:
- Memorial Day;
- Labor Day;
- Christmas Eve;
- New Years.
The schedule would be reversed in even-numbered years. In general, the holiday schedule takes priority over the normal weekday and weekend schedule for visitation. These scheduling guidelines will be specific as to the pick-up and drop-off times as well.
It should also be noted that this particular schedule revolves around Christian holidays. If one or both parties celebrate other holidays, then those need to be written down, divided and alternated every year. Some examples include:
- Yom Kippur
- Rosh Hashanah
- Columbus Day
Visitation times are also typically outlined for special days, such as each parent’s birthday, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and the child’s birthday.
In the event you do run into a problem with parenting time in East Brunswick this holiday season, it’s generally advisable to make certain first that it’s not simply a miscommunication or misunderstanding. However, if that’s not the case, you do have the right per N.J. Stat. Ann. 2C:13-4(a) to file an incident report for interference with custody or a criminal complaint for visitation interference. Further, the parent who fails to abide the holiday parenting time schedule could be found in contempt of court.
If you need assistance with your New Jersey holiday parenting time arrangement, contact the East Brunswick child custody attorneys at Rozin-Golinder Law LLC by calling (732) 810-0034.
Additional Resources: Parenting Time: A Child’s Right, New Jersey Courts
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