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Should you hold joint birthday parties after divorcing?

You and your spouse get divorced and you have a 5-year-old child together. During the whole process, you try to put your child first. You set up a joint custody schedule so that the child still gets to see you and your ex, for instance, and you try to make the transition as easy as you can.

While doing this, you run into an important question: What do you do about birthdays? Do you have that celebration together, or is a joint birthday party just asking for trouble?

The answer is different for every couple, in every situation. Here are a few arguments from both sides.

Why you should have a joint party

Holding a joint party, rather than each having your own parties, means you get to celebrate on the same day -- your child's actual birthday. This feels fair to both parents, and it allows the child to see both of you on such a special day. As parents, your goal is to make that day go as well as possible for your child, and putting him or her first may mean a joint party is the best option.

You may also want to ask your child's preference, especially as they get older. Does the child think it would be more fun to have one big party on the correct day, rather than two parties? Does the child want to see both parents? Find out what is most important to your child and then try to figure out how you can make it happen. This is their day.

Why you should not have a joint party

One potential problem with a joint party -- or any events that you do together after the divorce -- is that children sometimes think it means their parents are going to get back together. This may be something they hope for every day. If you know it's not going to happen, is the joint party going to give your child false hope? That could be very difficult from an emotional standpoint.

You may also want to avoid a joint party if you know that you and your ex cannot get along the entire time. You do not want to cause family drama or risk an argument at the party itself. That ruins the entire event. If you cannot agree to be civil or if you fear that things will fall apart quickly, do not put your child in the middle of it and ruin what should be a fun, memorable occasion.

Legal rights

You may want to consider birthdays as you and your spouse create a child custody plan. Make sure you know all of the legal rights that you have.

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