Don’t fall into the trap of these holiday custody disputes

Photo of attorney Melinda L. Singer

If you are a divorced parent sharing custody of your children with their other parent, the holidays can sometimes be fraught with drama with your ex over the custody arrangements for the kids. Ideally, holiday custody terms should be fully addressed in your parenting agreement, but even then, events may still not go according to plan.

The last thing you want during this very different holiday season is more stress. To have happier holidays, avoid the following custody disputes with your ex-spouse or partner:

1. Overspending on gifts

If one parent likes to go all out and purchase numerous high-dollar holiday gifts for the kids and the other parent prefers or is limited to a more moderate approach to gift-giving, this can be problematic. Younger children may think that the parent who buys or spends more loves them more. If your holiday philosophy or bank account means that less is more, you may want to reach an agreement with your ex about setting limits for gift-giving or agree to give joint gifts.

2. Traveling out of New Jersey

This is probably not the best year for the holiday ski trip out west or fun in the sun down in the Dominican Republic. But you could still run afoul of your custody judgment if you want to take the kids out of state over the holidays to visit relatives. Make sure that you are fully compliant with your custody judgment at all times to avoid unpleasant repercussions.

3. Scheduling conflicts around family time

If your custody plans dictate that your ex has the kids on Christmas Eve and you on Christmas day but your parents want the family all to attend midnight Mass together on Christmas Eve, see whether you can reach a fair compromise. If not, follow the custody plan you have in place.

If you feel that your custody agreement does not reflect the kids’ best interests, consider revisiting the matter in court. 

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