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5 Common Family Law Issues Before the Holidays


Family law is the legal field that deals with issues relating to family relationships. Divorce, child custody, child support, and child visitation are the most well-known subjects of family law. These issues are often very common during the holidays as children and parents have time off and need to determine who the children will spend their holidays with. A skilled family lawyer can help navigate each of these issues to help you reach the best outcome for you or your children.

Family Celebrating During the HolidaysChild Custody During the Holidays

Child custody is the determination of the legal rights of a parent. While paternity determines who is a parent, child custody determines the extent of a parent’s rights. A parent with physical custody will care for the child on a day to day basis. A parent with legal custody means that parent has the right to weigh in on making certain decisions for that child, such as what school or church to attend or what medical treatments the child may receive.

Child custody is essential for maintaining a relationship during a child’s school life. Children in school may take part in school programs such as sports events, live-stage dramas, and other events. Children may also be released from school early prior to a holiday. Parents may need legal custody of their children in order to participate in school events, pick up their children, or legally permit another adult to pick up their children after school.

Child Visitation During the Holidays

Child visitation refers to the legal rights of a non-custodial parent. If a parent does not obtain any type of physical custody over a child, then they will usually be granted visitation rights. The terms of visitation will be provided in a formal agreement known as a “visitation schedule.” Such an agreement will also usually contain the child’s primary residence, permitted activities, and instructions regarding modification of the arrangement.

Child visitation can be difficult to schedule during the holidays. The child and both parents will often have time off and both parents may have grandparents, aunts, or uncles who want to see to the child during the holidays. One of the most common solutions is for the parents to have visitation with the children on a rotating holiday basis. One parent may have physical custody of the children during Thanksgiving and then the other parent will have custody during Christmas. The parents may reverse this schedule the following year so that the parents don’t miss out on certain holidays annually.

Some holidays may also be reserved for one parent. For instance, Father’s Day will typically be reserved for a father and Mother’s Day for the mother. Parents who were in a same-sex relationship may still need to deliberate among themselves regarding custody during Mother’s Day or Father’s Day. If one parent is a veteran, that parent would likely have custody during Veterans Day or Memorial Day.

Child Support

Child support is the payment by a non-custodial parent to assist with the financial support of their children. The payment are typically ongoing until the child turns 18, joins the military, is emancipated, or becomes married, whichever comes first. Child support is typically granted upon the dissolution of a marriage, or the establishment of paternity. Many states will have a specific set of child support guidelines.

Money is often tight during the holidays and it is not uncommon for a supporting parent to fall behind in payments. If a supporting parent is behind in payments, the parents can reach an agreement whereby the supporting parent can agree to make a larger payment at a later date or another potential agreement. If a legal solution is necessary, a court can order the supporting parent’s wages garnished or place a lien on the property. However, the legal system will encourage a settlement if possible.

Divorce During the Holidays

Divorce is the termination of a marriage. In many cases, a divorce can be amicable and the former spouses can part without much disagreement. Divorce can be a stressful process during what is otherwise a happy time of the year. Nobody wants to be at a courthouse immediately before Thanksgiving or Christmas. However, divorce takes time especially if minor children are involved. It is not unusual to file for divorce immediately prior to or after a holiday and then have the divorce finalized half a year later. While a divorce may be not end if it filed during a holiday period, the process can be started.

Extended Family Visitation

Generally, the only persons with legal rights over a child are the parents. Grandparents do not have many legal rights regarding visiting with their grandchildren. There is no guaranteed right for an extended family member to see a child except for certain visitation rights. Each state has their own laws regarding the rights granted to extended family members provided that they don’t interfere with a parents’ custody rights unless the parent is deceased or legally unfit to be a parent. If a parent is to be displaced by an extended family member, it should be done so in accordance with the child’s best interests.

Do I Need to Hire a Family Lawyer? 

If you have encountered any issue related to family law, then you should contact a skilled family lawyer today. Your lawyer can review your situation, explain how the laws may affect the outcome of your case, and discuss options for resolving your issues. In addition, your lawyer can advise you how to gather documents and evidence for court if needed and represent you during any court proceedings. A skilled family lawyer can answer your questions, provide guidance on your case, and represent your best interests in court.


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