Birthdays and Divorced Parents

date and time of the party

Discuss party expenses with your ex before the party

Discuss party responsibilities also

Divide the day between both parents if necessary

Be on your best behavior around your ex for your kid’s sake


You and the ex are on good terms

For hassle-free birthdays, plan well ahead. You can work together to plan a joint party or have one parent organize it and the other parent contributes financially and attends the party. This could be alternated between each parent each year.


  • the expenses including rental fees, deposits, cake, utensils, candles etc
  • who is responsible for the arrangements and other responsibilities
  • the number of kid’s friends
  • the number of relatives from each side of the family
  • cleaning up after the party
  • date and time of the party
  • invitations

Be clear on all these things up front and put it in writing or an email.

You and your ex do not get on so well

Please remember this is your kid’s special day so make them a priority.

Here are a few options:

  • Split the day in two, one parent has the morning period and the other parent spends the evening with the birthday child. The next year, you can swap the times around.
  • Alternate years so one parent organizes the party one year and the other parent, the next year
  • Hold a joint party. Only do so if you both can truly rise to the occasion and not have arguments or act badly in front of the kids.
  • Think about getting someone else, a professional to host the party for you. This reduces the pressure on each of you and gives you someone else to blame should anything go wrong.

Things to watch out for

When a divorced kid really wants a particular present, they may ask each parent for it independently to double their changes of getting it. If both parents buy the same present and one gives it to the kid before the other, this can cause hurt feelings and lead to arguments.

Try to work out which parent buys what beforehand or have your child make two separate lists for each household.

Kids living with divorced parents can be very good at playing both parents against each other especially if the parents don’t get on and there is not much communication. They can suggest one parent might get them a dog and then tell the other parent to encourage them to get something more expensive or desirable. Pretty soon you find yourself out shopping for a Ferrari for your kid and wonder how it came to this! OK, so I am exaggerating but kids are very good at taking advantage of this situation.

Do not fall victim to the “well Daddy (or Mommy) said they are getting me ____ for my birthday” and you feel you have to match or better it.

Do enjoy the day and celebrate another milestone in your child’s life.

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