Stephen J. Buhler, Attorney at Law

Holidays bring joy, conflict, for Utah families

There is perhaps no other time of the year that brings Salt Lake City families together more than the holiday season. While this is a welcome and joyful experience for many, it can also create stress and conflict when things do not go right.

As discussed last week in this blog, the new year is typically associated with an increase in divorce filings across the country. For those who are already divorced, the holiday season can also pose a number of challenges in dealing with their ex-spouse, such as a child custody dispute.

With increased family time, disputes often develop when one parent or the other wants to have the child during a particular occasion. Proposed changes in the visitation schedule may be met with opposition by the other parent.

Beyond parenting time disputes, however, other disputes can arise with the nature of the holidays. For instance, one parent may want the child to celebrate a particular tradition that is not embraced by the other parent. In other situations, gifts given to the children can raise conflict between the parents.

In dealing with these disputes, the needs and interests of the child should be placed at the forefront. Parents are urged to be flexible and to communicate when possible to ensure the child's best interests are met.

In some situations, the conflict between parents can ripen into a legal dispute. Changes to the parenting time schedule may be necessary, for example, which may require the involvement of the court. In other cases, one parent's visitation rights might be violated by the other parent. Ultimately, each case is different, but parents should understand their rights when disputes arise.

Source: CBS Detroit, "Advice to divorced parents for weathering holiday traps," Dec. 15, 2015

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