How Should Birthdays be Handled After Divorce?


August 7, 2020

Children often face difficult challenges after divorce, and may not be emotionally equipped to understand why their parents separated. When a child’s birthday is on the horizon, they will probably have a mix of feelings. They may feel excited about being one year older and anxious about how their birthday will be celebrated. It is up to the parents to take the lead to ease their children’s anxieties.

How this can be achieved will depend on the ability of the parents to interact productively. Of course this can be a challenge, especially if the divorce was acrimonious or if there are lingering unresolved issues. Despite the challenges, it is important to set aside one’s concerns and focus on the child’s needs and desires. Hopefully, both parents will be able to focus on their child.

What Should I Ask My Child?

Unless the child is a toddler, check to see if they have a preference for how their birthday will be celebrated. Most of the time, a child will have some ideas about the size of the party, the location, and a theme. Allowing a child to provide input is important. If a request is not doable, then suggest a similar alternative.

What if I Cannot Fulfill a Birthday Request?

Beware that a child may make an impossible request, such as wanting their parents to get back together. It is best to acknowledge the child’s desires, and calmly explain that things have changed. If an ex-spouse is entirely out of the picture and a child expresses a desire to see the absent parent, it is important to allow them to express their feelings. If this exchange happens pre-celebration, it may enable them to express their emotions before the birthday celebration.

Should I Co-Host a Party with My Ex-Spouse?

If an ex-spouse is still in the picture, then co-hosting a party needs to be considered. Parenting plans, which are negotiated during divorce proceedings, will provide guidance.

If the plan specifies alternating birthdays, then this should be honored. If the child wants to spend the day with both parents and one is willing to go along with the request, consider talking to an ex-spouse. Only consider celebrating together if both parties can agree to celebrate and put their differences aside for their child.

If emotions are too raw and it is not possible to civilly be together to celebrate a child’s birthday, then do not try to co-host a birthday party.

Can I Modify My Child Custody Arrangement?

Keep in mind that children are perceptive, and the greatest gift divorced parents can give to their children is reassurance. A jointly hosted party with two responsible adults who put their differences aside to celebrate can be a wonderful gift.

If the parents are concerned about child custody arrangements, they should speak to a lawyer. A lawyer will address any concerns, and can help modify a custody agreement if necessary.

Moorestown Divorce Lawyers at Stockton Family Law Help Parents Compose Fair Parenting Plans

Divorce is a complicated, and it can be challenging to arrange a fair custody agreement. Our experienced Moorestown divorce lawyers at Stockton Family Law help clients with their child custody agreements so that parents can equally spend time with their children. To schedule an initial consultation, complete our online form or call us at 856-412-5052. Located in Moorestown, New Jersey, we serve families throughout South Jersey, including Mount Laurel, Burlington County, and Camden County.

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