Happy Birthday! is something we all look forward to sharing with our children. But, is this day saved in your Divorce Agreement?
I have previously blogged on the “forgotten holidays” (Halloween, labor day) and visitation schedules. Birthdays are also often overlooked at times of divorce. A Court’s standard visitation does not include, specifically, children’s birthdays so it is up to you, as an attorney or client, to remember the dates that matter.
In most of my Agreements the child’s birthday is specifically considered. The following is an example.
The Father shall have custody of the minor child, at least, as the following times… “On the child’s birthday in odd-numbered years, from 8:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m., and from 2:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. in even-numbered years, or all other times as mutually agreed upon by the parties. The child shall be with the Mother on her birthday, including overnight, and with the Father on his birthday, including overnight.
Some alternative language is as follows;
The parents shall cooperate on each child’s birthday and shall plan to attend and pay for the child’s birthday party on an equal and reasonable basis. However, if the parents are unable to agree, then notwithstanding which parent has physical custody on the child’s birthday, the parent not having physical custody of the child on her birthday shall have the opportunity to celebrate the birthday with that child from 4:00 p.m. until 7:00 p.m. on her birthday.
None of the above language is perfect for every circumstance and the fact that it must be included could be an indicator that mom and dad are not working together in the child’s best interest. Also, parties can disagree on how to “cooperate” and what is “reasonable.” However, if you are dealing with a battle-axe it’s much better to have specific language and not need, than to need it and no have it.
Matthew Thompson is a Family Law attorney and wishes Claire a happy, happy, happy birthday!
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