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Unlike Winter Break, March Break and Summer Break, religious holidays have special meaning. Whereas there can be some discretion and flexibility in dividing up access on March break or the summer holidays, with religious holidays, parents must divide a finite and specific day, or a number of days between them.

Hello. My name is Daphna Schwartz, and I am a lawyer at Feldstein Family Law Group. In today’s video blog, I will be speaking to you about how religion and religious holidays impact on regular access.

Determining access for religious holidays can be complicated. Firstly, where one parent is more religious than the other, the less religious parent may not understand or feel the need to honour certain practices or traditions. Secondly, challenges can occur where parents practise different religions, particularly when the children are scheduled to be with the non-observant parent during the religious holiday.

As a result, the division of religious holiday access requires some planning and consideration to ensure that the children’s best interests are met.

If the holiday is two days in duration, the children can celebrate with one parent on the first day and the other on the second day. For example, as there are two Passover Seders, one parent can have the children for the Seder on the first night and the other parent can have the children for the Seder on the second night.

This approach however is not feasible for more observant or “orthodox” Jews if the parents do not live within walking distance of each other. As religious Jews will not travel on the Sabbath or Holy Days, the children of religious parents cannot travel from one parent’s home to the other for the second Seder, if they do not live in close proximity.

In such a case, the parents may have to alternate certain holidays each year.

Similar guidelines can apply to other Jewish holidays, including but not limited to Rosh Hashanah, Sukkot, and Shavuot.

Passover can pose an additional access complication where one parent does not observe the traditions and rules associated with Passover.

For example, since Jews are prohibited from eating leavened products during the eight days of Passover, the home of the parent not observing Passover would not be Kosher for Passover and the observant parent might take issue with the children having access with that parent during the Passover Holiday when leavened products could be consumed by the children.

As with any holiday access, co-operation, flexibility and sensitivity to cultural and religious sensibilities must prevail to ensure that access takes place with the children’s best interests in mind. In this instance, having an Agreement in place that specifically outlines the protocols for such holidays can be incredibly helpful in avoiding conflict.

For more information on these and other access issues, please visit our website, or call 905-581-7222 to schedule an initial consultation. Thank you for watching.