The holidays can lead to co-parenting challenges

When families are divided by separation or divorce, parents often struggle over the care and custody of their children. Many custody issues will be worked out during the divorce or child custody proceedings, but reaching an agreement does not always mean that the terms will remain acceptable over time. The holidays often bring out or heighten existing disputes over custody, and can lead Massachusetts parents to struggle and fight over custody rights as they pertain to holiday celebrations.

There are a number of ways to handle the holidays when multiple families are involved. In the most cooperative of cases, families are able to celebrate at least part of the holiday together, in much the same way that holidays were handled while the family was intact. This can even include the participation of both extended families. This type of arrangement, however, is rare.

More often, the holidays will be divided between parties, with children shuttled back and forth between multiple households. This can be a stressful time for children, and can alter the way that they feel about the holiday season. Parents should try to work together to determine a holiday schedule that puts the needs of the child or children at the forefront.

Unfortunately, in many cases existing tensions and old resentments between parents prevent this type of collaborative approach. In such circumstances, it may be advisable to approach a family court to have the holiday schedule determined or augmented. Courts in Massachusetts and elsewhere are willing to consider custody modifications when circumstances have significantly changed and when an alteration would serve the best interests of the child. Parents who wish to pursue this option should research the child custody statutes pertaining to custody rights and modification, and prepare a well-documented legal argument that supports their proposed changes.

Source: The Huffington Post, “Putting Children First: The Best Gift Divorced Parents Can Give Their Children This Holiday Season,” Randi L. Rubin, Nov. 20, 2012

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