Covid-19, in its various forms, continues to wreak havoc on our lives and families. If you’re divorced, or contemplating a divorce, the Omicron Covid variant might be particularly tricky to navigate this holiday season.
Whether choosing to vaccinate your kids or not, or merely addressing alimony changes in the new, Covid-19 economy, Covid remains a pest and a game-changer in New Jersey divorce matters. In this blog post, we will review holiday parenting time law and discuss how the Omicron variant might impact our plans.
Holiday Parenting Time Agreements
In New Jersey divorce agreements, holidays are generally alternated between both parents based upon even and odd years.
For example, if the Mother had the children for Halloween in odd years, then the Father would have the children for Halloween in even years. For holidays with a multi-day component, the alternating might work as follows: Christmas Eve with Mother and Christmas Day with Father in Odd Years, and then flipped in Even Years.
The parties generally include such holiday parenting time language in their divorce agreements, or “MSA’s” (Marital Settlement Agreements). The more specific an agreement, the better, as a divorce agreement will serve as the “rulebook” to the parties’ post-divorce relationship. Thus a solid goal for any divorce practitioner should be to craft easily understood divorce agreements that do not lend themselves to creating future issues, disputes, and/or litigation.
With that said, not every contingency can be planned for. When addressing “Black Swan” events such as COVID, sometimes the parties may need to return to the bargaining table so that they can work together in their children’s best interests.
Omicron Variant and Holiday Parenting Time
Unfortunately, we are confronting another “holiday season” impacted by Covid. This time by the swiftly moving Omicron variant, that makes it seem like half of the people you know are sick (at least here in New Jersey, an early hotspot for the latest variant.)
With ominous statements from public officials about the spread of Omicron this holiday season, it will be important to protect children this holiday season.
Unfortunately, as with vaccines, personal politics may play a role in making holiday plans this season. For instance, if your ex does not believe Omicron is a big deal, and it is their turn to exercise holiday parenting time this Christmas, then they might insist on bringing your children around others. This could not only be potentially dangerous for your children, but also for you and other vulnerable members of your household.
Alternatively, perhaps you have a partner who you believe is stopping you from attending a safe event. Either way, you will need to work all of this out, or face the necessity of filing emergent court motions this holiday season.
One of the difficult things about the New Jersey family law system, is that there are only two real options to pursue when disagreement strikes. You can either work it out between yourselves (with or without the assistance of lawyers) to draw up a consent order, or you can seek the assistance of the court. Motions are generally considered when seeking court assistance, but it takes at least twenty-four days, and more often a month or two for a Motion to be addressed. That leaves emergent actions for relief, known as Orders to Show Cause.
In order for An Order to Show Cause to be successful, you must generally demonstrate a serious risk of physical harm to yourself or your children. Whether or not an ex bringing your children to a holiday event this holiday season will constitute such harm will likely depend on the judge reviewing the papers. Although Covid has been impacting our lives for nearly two years now, the Omicron variant is something entirely new in the speed of its spread. To further complicate matters, there seems to be conflicting data at this time about how serious it is if you get sick with it.
If you’re confronting serious holiday parenting time issues this holiday season, it might make sense to schedule a consult with an experienced divorce lawyer of your choosing. The holidays only come around once a year, and there are no second chances in avoiding infection once someone is sick. It’s a difficult situation for all involved, with few clear answers.
Despite all these difficulties, we at Taylor Divorce Law, LLC are wishing you a peaceful and healthy holiday season and New Year.