By Donald Schumacher, Seiden Family Law

With traditions of fireworks, food and fun, the Fourth of July might just bring out a divorced parent’s fight for independence with their children. When it comes to co-parenting on holidays like this one, parents shouldn’t rely on cookie-cutter parenting time agreements. Although you may feel tempted to air your grievances with your personal King George III, it is important to consider one another’s wishes and solutions and compromise to make an agreement that leads to success in dividing the time with your children. 

In an ideal world, after the parenting time plan is made, it works out great for both parents and may as well be set in stone. And surely, the best parenting time plan is one that no one ever has to look at again, and the parents can move forward accommodating everyone’s, especially their children’s, needs and preferences. However, you cannot expect your plan to work out perfectly. (The Declaration of Independence was not perfect after its first draft either.) But, as a general rule for yourself, just be careful to include what is important to you, in the spirit of compromise, in your parenting agreement.

To best handle dividing holiday parenting time, you should consider not only what holidays should be included in a schedule but what partsof the holidays should be included. This does not mean that one parent provides the Christmas tree in their home while the other provides the gifts. With Independence Day, if the holiday is important to you because of traditions—such as an annual family reunion barbeque with the cousins or walking in the local parade—include those traditions in the parenting schedule. But if the Fourth of July is all about evening fireworks—especially when the children are younger—then a parenting agreement could give that parent time with the children from dusk until evening (if not overnight) for whichever evening the fireworks are displayed. For instance, there are local fireworks on days other than July 4, such as in Cranford on July 2 and in New Providence on July 3.

A successful parenting plan would accommodate complications such as rain dates or rescheduled events, but this is contingent on you paying attention to the holiday’s specific events and traditions when writing a parenting plan.

With the Fourth of July in particular, sometimes a holiday does not fall on a weekend. Not only does this mean that you get a day off of work, but it means that you should certainly consider a plan for the preceding and following weekends that should be discussed with your partner. It is important to think about events that can be scheduled on a weekend before or after the holiday and the events that should or always occur on the day itself, regardless of the day of the week it falls on. 

To make things a little easier, here are two co-parenting options for the Fourth of July:

PLAN A:When it comes to Fourth of July parenting time, if the day is special to both parents, hopefully they can divide the day with the children by what they enjoy about the holiday (i.e., parade/barbeque with Parent A and then fireworks with Parent B) to either continue family traditions or create new traditions with the children (i.e., bake Fourth of July cookies or visit an historical site). Alternatively, the AM and PM can be alternated each year, so that each parent spends parenting time with the children on Independence Day. Otherwise,

PLAN B:If there can be no acceptable compromise, alternating the holiday each year between the parents may ultimately be the fairest solution.

Finally, we at Seiden Family Law, LLC are reminding you to consider what part of a holiday, if any, is important to you and the children when drawing up your parenting plan. Remember, it really is all about the kids. We hope you have a Fourth of July filled with pride, joy, and love!