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The holiday season is one of the most contentious times for embattled ex-spouses. Even for the most traditional and cohesive families, the holidays can be a time of added emotional and financial strain. Add in a difficult ex-partner or a faulty custody plan, and many families find themselves rushing to family court in December.
Some family law professionals claim that child custody battles tend to heat up or re-emerge when school begins or children begin long school breaks. According to Steve Bouch, executive officer of Napa Superior Court in California, “We see some of the same people every year…for whatever reason we have people who for one party or another need government intervention.” Bouch also added that 60 to 70 percent of citizens involved in family legal battles attempt to represent themselves instead of hiring an attorney.
According to the Napa County Superior Court Commissioner, it is very common to see a significant increase in child custody cases in December. “What happens is people come in on December 20 th ,” he explains, “because they don't know where their child is going to be on December 25 th .” In many cases, he says, he must determine quick solutions to child custody problems when parents wait until the last minute to come rushing to the family court for help.
Williams says he sometimes gives custody to one parent Christmas Eve and the other parent custody on Christmas day because the family needs a quick decision. However, he says, “It's not how we would like to proceed. What we would really like is a full history of the family and a full laying out of the facts so we find out the best thing to do.”
One attorney in the area reports that, for him and other family law attorneys, work actually slows down during the holiday season. “Nobody wants to be in court over the holidays,” he claims. Yet some attorneys in the area see business flare up. Another family law attorney says, “A lot of times parents will file modification requests if they don't have a plan that addresses holiday visitation.”
One good way to mitigate your chances of having to go to court for a child custody issue over the holidays is to develop a good child custody plan in the beginning. With the help of an experienced mediator or family law attorney, parents can map out issues of child custody over the holiday season during the divorce proceedings so that everyone understands and agrees on the arrangements before problems develop.
If you need assistance with your child custody concerns, contact an experienced child custody attorney today.