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  • Writer's pictureMark Lane Law Offices

The Grinch Who Stole Mom’s Christmas Visitation

Being Divorced comes with a lot of adjustments and overwhelming changes. A Divorce with Kids adds even more stress to the situation, adjustment to new living arrangements, financial arrangements and most importantly the #visitationschedule can leave a parent feeling helpless.

The Holiday Visitation Schedule can compound the stress of an already wearisome situation. With the hustle and bustle of the holiday season many parents are tempted to start bargaining for time with the other parent. Trading a day here and there to accommodate Grandma’s Christmas dinner or Aunt Suzie’s holiday party, in most cases is manageable, but sometimes can open the door to pain and disillusionment.

The case of The Grinch Who Highjacked the Holiday Visitation, is a great example of what can happen. My client, “Angela” (names and details have been changed), had been struggling to co-parent with her ex for 4 years with little improvement. Angela did a wonderful job helping her daughter, Hailey (age 10) adjust to the divorce and the visitation schedule, but it wasn’t easy. She did not alienate or bash Hailey’s father, John, as far as Hailey knew her mother was happy with the situation.

Although Angela was doing her best to keep the peace, the co-parenting relationship was unhealthy, tumultuous and difficultdue to John’s controlling behavior. Angela also struggled with establishing boundaries related to John’s control. I had advised her to seek Post-Divorce Counseling and possibly seek a Co-Parenting Coach or Counselor for additional support.

When the Holidays rolled around, John discussed a holiday vacation with Hailey, but it would need to be on the first week of the holiday break, which was Mom’s visitation, so Hailey would need to talk her mom into letting her go. John assured Angela that he would “trade” weeks and Angela reluctantly agreed. He took Hailey on the vacation, but upon return, he refused to return Hailey to Angela for her holiday visitation. He bullied and mocked Angela when she demanded Hailey be returned to her for visitation. John told her to refer to Visitation Schedule per the Court Order, which of course was correct.

It’s very sad that John abused Angela’s willingness to let Hailey go on a holiday trip during her visitation time. Unfortunately, in this case, Angela did not learn the first time, John continued to abuse and manipulate the visitation schedule, educational rights and even withheld medical information from Angela.

In over 24 years and over 8000 cases, similar circumstances have occurred. It’s unfortunate for the children in these situations of unhealthy co-parenting. Parents often gamble on the other parent doing what is right, even when they have had one bad experience after another. Therefore, my overall recommendation in most cases is follow the Court Order until a healthy co-parenting relationship can be established or suffer the disappointment of being taken advantage of.

In some egregious cases of abuse, further legal action is necessary to reestablish balance for the children’s sake. Not all cases are automatically a war in the courtroom, some can be facilitated with a mediation, but we are prepared to do what is necessary. Trying to negotiate or battle with an unreasonable parent can be both frustrating and can lead to the detriment of a child’s wellbeing.​

Speak to an attorney today, call Mark Lane Law Office now 817-377-1077.

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