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birthdays in a parenting agreement chicago divorce

Celebrating Birthdays in a Parenting Agreement

Categorized as Child Custody & Visitation

Birthdays are a big deal to kids – they usually get a party with their friends with cake, balloons, presents, and if they are lucky, a ball pit to jump into at Chucky Cheese! The day is all about them. Going through a divorce during this special time for a child can sometimes result in a dampening of the mood and a less than enthusiastic celebration.  birthdays in a parenting agreement While a child might be able to understand that holidays are celebrated with just one parent and that one side of their family, they probably can’t understand why both parents and the whole family cannot be together on that one day of the year that is all about them.

If the divorcing parents are ultimately not able to agree on how a birthday is going to be celebrated for their child or children, the Court must then make the final decision on birthdays in a parenting agreement.

Ways the Court Handle Disagreements on Birthdays in a Parenting Agreement

There are usually 2 ways to deal with a child’s birthday in court if the parents cannot agree on their own what to do. 

Alternating the Child’s Birthday Each Year

The first way is for the Court to alternate the child’s birthday each year, meaning one parent gets to celebrate that specific date with the child in even-numbered years and in the odd-numbered years it is to be celebrated with the other parent. Of course, this might not be ideal to the child as they likely prefer that their parents be present together at their party, but this is sometimes the best – or only – option in high conflict cases. This celebration allocation usually results in the parent who does not get to celebrate with the child on their actual birth date that year planning something on the weekend before or after the child’s birth date. Although not on their actual birthday, the parent who must plan on a different day should remember that their child will still enjoy the celebration. It’s more about the friends, the family, the fun, and the food for the child rather than if they get to celebrate on the actual day. 

Splitting The Birthday Between the Parents

The other way to resolve the issue is for the Court to require the parents to split the actual date of the birthday between the parents, where one parent gets some time in the morning and afternoon and the other gets birthday parenting time in the evening. This celebration plan lets both parties celebrate the actual birth date every year, but means that neither of them get a full day with the child and it’s almost impossible to plan a party when you only get half of the day. 

If the parents are more amicable during the case and after the divorce, it might be possible to try out a joint celebration so both parents can be at the party for the child at the same time. However, this should be done with consideration given to both parents as to the location of the party will be, who will be responsible for what costs, what guests will be invited, and the plan as to timing and cooperation between the parties. Everything should be planned in advance so no issues come up at or after the party. Both parents should also remember that this party is about the child, and the divorce case or parenting matters should not be discussed at the event.  

However a child’s birthday is celebrated, and whether that decision is made by the court or by the agreement of the parents, both parents, and their families need to set aside their differences for the child’s special day, so their child remembers his or her birthday celebration each year as being a happy, fun event with friends and without unnecessary family drama.

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