Vacanti | Shattuck | Finocchiaro Attorneys

What If A Parent Denies A Child Santa Claus?

Published On: December 20, 2013

The mystique and wonderment behind Santa Claus is what makes Christmas so special for children. From sitting on his lap at the mall and telling him what they want, to writing letters and addressing them to the North Pole, making wishes (and having them come true) is part of the holiday season that children often never forget.

Unfortunately, during the throes of a divorce (or a custody battle) one parent may try to hurt the other parent by ruining the mystery behind Santa Claus. Even more troubling, one parent may not want the child to even consider getting gifts from Santa or even recognizing the holiday because of religious reasons.

When an impasse like this occurs, what is a parent to do?

It is times like this where a parent may want to pursue a custody modification motion. This essentially is a request to change the current parenting plan or custody decree in order to address the problems set forth in the motion. There are number of issues that family court judges tread lightly around, and freedom of religion is one of them.

Basically, judges do not normally feel comfortable about issuing orders that appear to favor one religion over another, or denies a person of a genuine opportunity to practice their convictions. Because of this, a court will carefully balance the interests of the child against a person’s constitutional right to practice their religion.

Ultimately, disputes over whether Santa may play a part in a child’s holiday experience should not find their way to a courtroom. But if a parent insists, it is prudent to consult an experienced family law attorney.

Source:, “Let your child believe in Santa Claus,” Jane Gopalakrishnan, December 2, 2013

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