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  • Writer's pictureLaurie M. Wasserman

How to Handle Your Child's Birthday While Living Apart

Separation is a major change for a family. For many parents who are dealing with their own emotions, it is difficult to view the situation from the perspective of their children and how they may be internalizing the transition.

When it comes to your children’s birthdays, the last thing parents want to do is turn the special occasion into another parent disagreement. Here are some tips on how to handle your child’s birthday post-separation.

Birthdays Are About the Kids, Not the Parents

During custody disputes, parents will sometimes try to include a provision which states that their kids’ birthdays must be split evenly. Some parents decide that the children celebrate their birthdays with them every alternating year, while others plan separate parties each year regardless of time and circumstance. Rarely will a parent stop to ask the child what he or she wants to do with regards to the birthday celebration.

If parents are able to honor their child’s wishes about the celebration, they should make their best efforts to do so. You do not want your child’s special day to be overshadowed by parents’ hurt and anger.

Coordinate and Cooperate

If you can celebrate together, it is important for parents to discuss details for the celebration. Things that should be discussed are whether significant others or extended family members can attend (or if that should be saved for another time), the cost of the celebration, who will be buying specific gifts for the child, and what day the celebration will take place. Once parents have an agreement on the details, then a joint invitation can be issued to your child’s guests.

Why Not Throw Two Parties?

If you cannot have a shared party for any reason, then holding two separate birthday celebrations is an option. With separate celebrations, it allows the extended family to be part of the celebrations. If parents are having separate celebrations, it is still courteous to let the other parent know what your plans are and what gifts are being purchased, to avoid duplication or disappointment from the child.

Pay Attention to What Your Child is Feeling

Whatever you and your ex decide to do for your child’s birthday, your child may not be fully honest in expressing how they feel about the situation. Your child may have plenty of reasons to suppress their emotions, whether it be to avoid further tension or the pressure to please both parents. It is important to have open, appropriate discussions with your child. You can acknowledge your child’s feelings without giving them specific information as to why you and your ex cannot stand to be in the same room with each other. Having the child discuss the issue with his or her therapist can also be helpful.

Contact Your Family Law Attorney for More Information

If compromise is currently not on the table, and you believe that your ex’s behavior is affecting the happiness of your child, an experienced family law attorney at Wasserman Family Law can help. Remember that your options are not always limited to the terms in the custody order and that further amendments can be made under the right conditions if parents agree otherwise.

If you have questions about custody schedules, please contact Laurie Wasserman at or 410-842-1070. The legal team at Wasserman Family Law is here to help guide and advocate for you.

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Disclaimer: Opinions and conclusions in these blog posts are solely those of the author unless otherwise indicated. The information contained in this blog is general in nature and is not offered and cannot be considered as legal advice for any particular situation. For legal advice, you should directly consult a lawyer to discuss the specific facts of your matter.

By reading this blog, you acknowledge that there is no attorney-client relationship between you and the author.

Any links provided are for informational purposes only and by doing so, the author does not adopt or incorporate the contents. The author is the legal copyright holder of all materials on the blog, and they cannot be repurposed without permission.


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