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Is Holiday Parenting time an Emergency?

An Order to Show Cause is the mechanism a family court judge issues an order on an “emergency” matter. There is a high standard for the Court to enter an Order granting requests on this basis. Therefore, if you fail to secure an agreement now for parenting time around the holidays, it is unlikely the Court will enter an Order granting you any holiday parenting time if you were to file an order to Show Cause a day or two before the holiday.


When you request emergent relief, by filing an Order to Show Cause, you must satisfy a four-prong test per a New Jersey Supreme Court case, Crowe v. De Gioia, 90 N.J. 126 (1982). First, your requests must be emergent in nature. Second, your request must demonstrate that you (or your children) are at risk of irreparable harm. Third, you must demonstrate that the underlying request is well settled law, and you have a likelihood of success on the merits of your application. And fourth, you must show that when the Court balances all the available equities, the requests weigh in your favor.


For the most part, issues of custody and parenting time are not emergent, which is why requests for holiday parenting time are not often addressed on an emergent basis. The Court will likely find that you knew the holidays and winter break were coming, for at least twelve months, and could have filed your motion to be heard on the regular motion cycle, instead of on an emergent basis. The Court can always address missed parenting time over the holidays, with make-up parenting time. That request, again, is addressed in a motion, not an Order to Show Cause.


It is important to act before an issue arises, and not at the last minute. The attorneys of Arndt & Sutak, LLC are regularly address emergency family matters and can consult with you about filing an Order to Show Cause, or a Motion. Contact us today to protect your rights and your parenting time with your children.

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