Holidays pose challenges to child custody in Missouri

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The holiday season is chaotic and hurried enough. When there are issues related to disputes or disagreements regarding child custody, Missouri parents may need to seek outside legal help. While parenting plans are usually explicit and detailed when it comes to holiday breaks and custody arrangements, these plans may not work year after year and may need to be revisited and renegotiated.

One common source of strife is the actual time split between parents. Typically, parents may split the long holiday break in half with one parent taking a child for the first half then the other until school resumes. Holiday breaks change year after year and this may make an even split impossible. Also, certain religious observances celebrated by one parent may fall during the other parent’s time, creating strife or the need for reworking the days.

When the actual religious observance or celebration is the source of the contention, not the days split, then parents may need to negotiate answers. A judge will not typically prevent a parent from taking a child to a religious service or celebrating a certain observance just because the other parent does not approve. The only feasible exception would be if the child would be harmed by this experience or event.

With varying observances, lengths of breaks and changes in family dynamics and celebrations, holiday child custody issues can arise in almost any family. Missouri parents may want to be prepared for any changes or disagreements well before the holiday break begins. If parents find communication or an existing parenting plan does not address the child custody issues that are affecting their families, outside negotiation and legal help may be necessary to ensure fairness all around.

Source:, “Navigating shared custody during the holidays“, Patra Sinner, Dec. 7, 2015

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