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Is There a ‘Legal Side’ of Holiday Gift-Giving in Divorced Families?

As the season of gift-giving draws close, deciding what’s best for you and your children concerning holiday shopping can be challenging.

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Divorce can leave families feeling uncertain and overwhelmed, especially during the holidays. As an important season of gift-giving and family traditions draws close, deciding what’s best for you and your children concerning holiday shopping becomes even more challenging. Let’s review what your parental rights are for holiday gift-giving.

New Jersey Courts Say Child Support Isn’t a Gift 

When it comes to Christmas or birthday presents, child support payments shouldn’t be used to cover your portion. If your child has always received gifts on these occasions, it’s your responsibility to discuss and agree with your co-parent on how much you both are willing to spend on gifts for each occasion. This way, you can ensure a fair and reasonable arrangement that considers your child’s needs and the financial capabilities of both parents.

What Do the Courts Say About Divorced Parents Giving Extravagant Gifts to Their Children?

The New Jersey courts have addressed parents giving their children extravagant gifts in cases involving manipulation through gift-giving. This can include excessive gift-giving or lavish gifts to the child while knowing the other parent can’t afford to do the same. When this behavior is repeated frequently by one parent, it’s considered parental alienation.

In order to prioritize the well-being of children, the New Jersey family court system emphasizes the importance of contact and loving support from both parents. As a result, parental alienation is explicitly recognized and outlined in the New Jersey family laws (NJ Rev. Stat. § 9:2-4). Consequently, if someone engages in parental alienation, they can be brought to court in New Jersey. If you believe you’re a victim of parental alienation, we recommend talking to your family law attorney about your unique situation to determine what steps to take next.

Is There a Way to Legally Set Financial Limits on Gifts From Each Parent?

Unless you believe your ex is using parental alienation strategies to hurt your relationship with your child, the simple answer is no. There are many different ideas about how to work out a budget or plan for giving gifts. They all include the advice we give to everyone divorced or divorcing with children: Communicate with your ex.

We’re not saying it’s always easy or straightforward, but it’s necessary. Communicating with your child’s other parent to create a plan eases the stress and tension for everyone. The courts have made it clear that their only concern is what’s best for the children. To that end, if you need help communicating with your ex to create an agreement, obtain professional legal help.

Mediation will help create a plan that can work for both of you, while limiting your exposure to each other if that’s problematic. Each parent should only want what’s best for their children. The experienced family law attorneys at Smedley Law Group can help you mediate this situation with your co-parent, if you’d like to arrive at an amicable situation.

Can NJ Courts Address Gift-Giving in the Same Child Custody Agreement During Divorce Proceedings?

Specific agreements are reached during divorce proceedings, including child support and custody. Child support can be established through the mutual agreement of parents, approved by a judge, or calculated and authorized by the judge. On the other hand, the child custody agreement is determined during divorce. It can be drafted by the parents or the judge, with the final decree granted by the judge to make it legally binding.

The child custody agreement covers several aspects, including primary custody determination, a schedule for both parents to follow regularly, and the division of holidays, even specifying the allocated hours spent at each parent’s residence. However, it doesn’t explicitly address gift-giving matters. Therefore, NJ courts don’t directly address gift-giving within the child custody agreement during divorce proceedings.

What Can I Do If Holiday Gift-Giving Has Become Difficult Since Our Divorce?

If you haven’t already, talk to your ex about the situation. Working this out while the children are young will provide many years of happiness for the whole family. Remember, this is for your kids. They want to enjoy gifts but would much rather spend time with their parents enjoying special traditions.

Some find using the child support calculator very helpful to determine how much each parent will contribute to a big purchase item, such as an iPhone or computer. One parent may contribute 60% of the payment, while the other may contribute 40 percent.

If you and your ex can’t create an agreement that works for you or won’t follow it, contact an experienced family law attorney at Smedley Law Group. Our experienced divorce attorneys know how to de-escalate emotions and focus on reaching a positive outcome.

Contact the Expert Family Law Attorneys at Smedley Law Group in Woodbury, NJ Today

If you’re dealing with a divorce, you’ll also most likely be dealing with another matter like child custody, child support, division of assets, or post-judgement matter, so you’ll need to speak with a qualified attorney. The New Jersey family law attorneys at Smedley Law Group represent clients throughout the state, including West Deptford, Woodbury Heights, Runnemede, and Westville. 

We understand how challenging this time can be for you, which is why we’ll fight hard to protect your interests, and the interests of your loved ones, throughout the legal process. Call us at (856) 251-0800 or fill out our confidential contact form to schedule a consultation. We have an office conveniently located at 750 Cooper Street, Woodbury, NJ 08096.

The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.

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