Saratoga Child Custody Lawyer Discusses Birthday Parties for Your Children
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Can I have a birthday party for my son without my ex-husband’s permission even if we have shared legal custody?
I understand that in an ideal world it would be nice for both parents to plan their child’s birthday party together, but my ex-husband is very controlling and won’t let me plan the party the way me and my son would like to plan it, and he tries to dictate everything I do, down to when I send out the invitations and who to invite. It is stressful for me and my son, and I’d like to just plan a birthday party without needing to involve my ex-husband. Can I just plan my son’s birthday party without my ex-husband’s involvement? Do I need to tell him I’m doing it? Do I need to include him in the process and NOT do what my son and I want if he doesn’t want to do it that way. Or can i just plan a party and tell his dad: this is what we’re doing this year? Do I even need to tell him?
You should review the precise language of your custody order, separation agreement, or divorce decree, as in some cases there is specific language which addresses the celebration of birthdays (i.e. there is a specific custodial schedule for birthdays, or a provision that both parents must be invited or able to participate in certain events).
With that being said, absent language to the contrary, without knowing the specific facts of your case, and notwithstanding the fact that you have “joint legal custody”, my opinion is that you absolutely CAN plan a birthday party for your child on your own custodial time as you deem appropriate, without involving your husband. I would, however, offer the following caveats:
1. Your planned party should not in any way limit or effect dad’s parenting time;
2. You shouldn’t, directly or indirectly, make dad out to be the bad guy in the planning process (i.e., I would NOT tell your child: “We are going to have a great party now that we are planning it without dad” or anything like that);
3. I wouldn’t ask your child to keep the party a secret from dad. You might want to simply tell dad “I’ve decided to throw a private birthday party for our son on my custodial time. It is X day at X time. I have handled all of the arrangements, and you are welcome to attend if you would like.” Or, simply mail dad an invitation…
If you do not have custody of your child on his actual birthday, that may mean that you throw your party on a different date, or that the child is very lucky and gets two celebrations. The bottom line is that unless your court order says otherwise, you each can spend your custodial time as you deem appropriate. Religious, medical, and educational decision relate to “joint legal custody.” In my opinion, party planning does not rise to that level.
Do you have questions about what you can and can’t do with your child according to your child custody agreement? If so, contact the experienced Saratoga Child Custody Lawyer Jennifer Sunderlin