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Holiday Parenting Time and Scheduling in NJ

By Sarah Jacobs, Esq.

Securing time for real relaxation, connection, and family bonding during the holidays challenges most families—and it can feel even more challenging for divorced or separated co-parents trying to maximize meaningful time spent with their children.

If both co-parents feel the strain and stress of trying to create or modify a parenting schedule that works with their holiday plans, reaching a consensus as to which days the child spends at which home may be a struggle.

Solutions look different for different sets of co-parents, and your divorce or child custody attorney in Morris County should be able to help guide you through creating a schedule. Additionally, if parents truly can’t reach a consensus, they may need to follow New Jersey’s Holiday and Special Days “Standard Schedule.” holiday schedule.

Holiday scheduling 

For many co-parents, compromise is a part of creating or modifying a holiday parenting time schedule—as hard as it may seem to spend a holiday without your child, this may be part of a global solution for allocating parenting time. 

Or, perhaps, you and your co-parent think it’s wise to split holidays and vacation parenting time, but aren’t quite sure how to do that. That said, a good child custody attorney may be able to help you through the process of negotiating a schedule that works for your family. 

Creating (or modifying) a schedule is more manageable when co-parents can put their children’s needs first and communicate clearly. These and other co-parenting tips can help in many situations. Still, there are also times when that level of coordination isn’t possible—or isn’t possible if things are very strained between co-parents at present.

If co-parents cannot reach an agreement, they may choose to default to the holiday and special day schedule used by the Court as a default where parents can’t agree. Although this schedule uses “mother” and “father” to designate who has the child on which holidays, the schedule is flexible as to caregivers and can be used in many situations.

Using the New Jersey holiday parenting time schedule 

The custody and parenting time schedule is used in New Jersey as a default when parents can’t agree on a shared custody arrangement. However, while the holidays below show the standard schedule for time sharing holidays ad special occasions, the court may deviate from this schedule on a case-by-case basis to create a more detailed schedule that’s in the children’s best interests. 

Court-approved holiday parenting time schedule

The schedule provided by the New Jersey courts should alternate between co-parents each year, and the schedule includes the time or date each holiday begins and ends. The main dates and observances listed include the following:

  • Christmas Eve and Christmas Day
  • New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
  • Presidents’ Day
  • Easter 
  • Memorial Day
  • July 4th
  • Labor Day
  • Thanksgiving

Additionally, special days within the family are factored in, as well:

  • Father’s birthday to father 
  • Mother’s birthday to mother 
  • Mother’s Day  
  • Father’s Day 
  • Child’s birthday 

Although the parenting time schedule from the New Jersey courts focuses on Christian holidays, there are many other holidays and observances that may be included in an agreement with the courts depending on you and your co-parent’s faith and the special occasions or specific traditions important to your family. 

Work with a child custody attorney to modify your agreement

If you and your co-parent are having trouble reaching an agreement as to the holiday schedule, it’s recommended that you talk with a child custody attorney. 

Legally, you’re required to honor your co-parent’s time with your children, and they’re required to do the same for you. Therefore, it helps to create a schedule that will actually work for you, which may include modifications as life circumstances change. After all, holiday planning can be stressful enough already, and having a set schedule that both parents can feel comfortable with can take some of the weight off your shoulders.

Divorce and child custody attorneys regularly work with parents to create a workable schedule through mediation and other forms of negotiation. While it may be easiest to model your individual family’s holiday schedule on the default parenting time schedule, you don’t have to use that schedule if you and your co-parent come to another agreement.

At Jacobs Berger, our child custody attorneys have the insight and experience to work with you to find individualized solutions that make the most sense for your family.

If you need assistance in creating a parenting time schedule or would like legal support for other child custody issues, contact us.

Contact Our Morristown Attorneys Today

At Jacobs Berger, our attorneys are experienced in protecting our clients across Madison, Randolph, Tewksbury, Morristown, and the greater Morris County area in all family law-related issues.

To schedule a strategic planning session with one of our experienced team members regarding your particular case, please contact us online or through our Morristown, NJ office at (973) 354-4506.