When a divorce happens, it often results in a certain awkwardness amongst formerly married couples during holidays such as Father’s Day and Mother’s Day. You and your husband may have been the best of friends before the divorce, and now you are obligated to celebrate Father’s Day when you may not really have the desire to. Learning how to adjust, especially after a newly filed divorce, can be difficult for some couples. However, in my experience as a top-rated Bergen County, New Jersey divorce lawyer, I have found clients best manage this situation by not fully focusing on their own feelings and rather being mindful that their children’s needs be of utmost importance. Here are three possible ways to approach Father’s Day after a divorce:

Parenting is a Lifelong Commitment

Remember, children’s needs come first, not your emotions. Your ex-husband will forever be your child’s father, although he is no longer married to you. Please avoid the desire to plan other activities around Father’s Day, and acknowledge the day just as you would want him to acknowledge Mother’s Day. There should be time set aside for your child(ren) to spend time with their father, call him, and/or send him a thoughtful gift. Keep the traditions alive just as you did when you were married, and create lifelong memories for your family.

Be Proactive

Avoid waiting until the day of (or the day before) Father’s Day to plan an event or activity for the family. To help conjure ideas, visualize those times when you were married and those things you once did as a family during Father’s Day. Be thoughtful and let your ex-husband know how much he is appreciated as a father. The activity (or activities) do not have to be expensive or grandiose – all it requires is a little creativity and thoughtfulness.  

Don’t Be Bitter, But Be the Better Parent

If your divorce did not go as smoothly as you had originally planned for it to go, that is common and understandable. You may not have 100% custody of your children, or the father may not be regularly paying child support. As a divorce attorney, I have heard of cases that were very challenging for both parties. It can be burdensome to celebrate Father’s day when your child’s father is not as responsible as you thought he would be. However, remember that is their issue – not yours. Continue being a mature parent, leave the past in the past, and allow your child(ren) to celebrate Father’s Day, in spite of the circumstances.

All in all, Father’s Day is an opportunity for fathers to be celebrated and shown how much they are appreciated for the role they play in their child’s lives. Although you may no longer be married, it is no excuse to avoid celebrating Father’s Day. Continue family traditions, remain positive in spite of, and remember that your children’s needs come first.


This article contains general information and opinions from Sheena Burke Williams and is not intended to be a source of legal advice for any purpose. No reader of this article should act or refrain from acting on the basis of information included in this article without seeking legal advice of counsel. Sheena Burke Williams expressly disclaims all liability with respect to actions taken or not taken based on any content in this article.