Go on vacation with your kids’ half-siblings.

Posted December 7th, 2016.

Categories: Child Custody, Custody Tips, Family Law.

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Relationships between siblings– even half brothers and half sisters– can be very important in a custody case. In fact, in many cases, a judge will decide the custody case in favor of the parent who best promotes the sibling relationship. Where half brothers and half sisters are bonded to each other, the parent who can provide the greatest continuity of that relationship may be more successful in the custody case.

This was the case back in 1995 when the Supreme Court of Alaska decided the case of McQuade vs. McQuade. In that case, the court awarded custody of a boy to his mother where the mother was most likely to maintain the child’s bond with his older siblings. In fact, just a few years ago in the 2008 case of In Re Booth the Michigan Appeals Court placed a child with a foster family rather than with her own grandmother, in order to keep the child with her half sister (to whom she was bonded). These cases serve to illustrate how important the sibling relationship is.

In divided families, half brothers and half sisters often befriend each other and form close relationships. These relationships may develop because the children are about the same age, or because they share similar experiences. When planning family events, vacations and celebrations, it is always a good to include half brothers and half sisters. Not only does this reveal a parent’s dedication to promoting the sibling bond, but it also serves to demonstrate the inclusive nature of the parent. As I’ve noted a number of times in these blogs and in my tweets, judges look more favorably on parents who are inclusive than they do on parents who act in isolation and avoidance.

Take your child’s half brothers and half sisters on vacation with you. Invite them to the birthday parties and sleepovers. Treat them as fully and fairly as you would a full-blood brother or full- blood sister. Document the relationship between the siblings and half siblings, and maintain a photo album. In the event that sibling relationships become an issue, or if a parent’s inclusiveness is questioned, these documents and photographs will help you build your custody case.

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