January 4, 2012

Father longed to see his custodial son over the holidays

When divorced or unmarried parents are sharing custody of their children, one difficult issue that can come up is whether their child custody arrangement adequately covers parenting time during holidays and vacations. Like most families, parents in Michigan want to spend the holidays with their children. That may not always be realistic and, in fact, being shuffled around during holidays may be very stressful for the children.

Parents should always consider what family courts look to when they are determining the best course of action, which is what is the best interest of the child. Is it helpful for a child to witness parent’s tug-of-war during the holidays? Or is it instead more appropriate for a child to simply enjoy a holiday or vacation day, even if one parent misses out?

Unfortunately, for one nine-year-old boy and his dad, this has been a particularly difficult holiday season in this regard. Although the boy’s father shares joint custody with his mother, the boy has primarily been living with his father more than three years, and the mother has lost custody of another child due to neglect. In this case, the mother has violated the unmarried child custody order by refusing to return the boy to his father’s home after a Thanksgiving visit.

Although the father has recently received word that the boy is safe and well, that does not detract from the fact that his father’s rights and the child custody order have both been violated. More important, this little boy has been away from his primary caregiver during the time of year when he should have been at home celebrating.

Unfortunately, this story may sound all too familiar for some Michigan parents this season. Whether you are going through a divorce, your divorce has been finalized, or you are in the midst of a similar child custody dispute, you should realize that the holidays are not only an important time for you and your child but also for the other parent — and his or her relationship with the child. If you cannot resolve your shared parenting issues, consider seeking advice from an attorney.

Source: theeagle, “Holidays sharpen custody clashes,” Maggie Kiely, Dec. 24, 2011