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For happy holidays, consider the best interest of the child

Many people eagerly anticipate the approach of the holiday season. For some, it is a time of great happiness to be shared with their children. When a family is going through a divorce, however, this time of year may instead become more tense. It is likely that any children will wish to spend quality time with both parents over the holidays. For residents of California, as in other states, when trying to negotiate a visitation schedule, it is better to consider what is in the best interest of the child.

The modern family unit has changed considerably from the days when a more conventional grouping was the social norm. As a result of blended families, a household may now comprise biological, step and adopted children. As with most families, it can be difficult for those within the household to resolve conflicts among themselves over arrangements, so that all members are included. When arranging visitation time with a parent who is not part of the household, it can create further difficulties. Considering these issues in advance and working out a suitable schedule may be of great assistance.

It may help to start by thinking of specific times when the whole household wants and needs to be together -- for example, for a specific event. As this plan unfolds, opportunities may present themselves for children to go and visit with their other parent. Similarly, there may also be children from previous relationships who might come and visit with one's family. With some forward planning and flexibility, it should be possible to arrange visits without causing disruption or upset to either parents or siblings.

Keeping the lines of communication open is vital and will make planning far easier. California residents may wish to consider seeking legal advice and guidance relating to holiday planning and visitation, as part of a co-parenting agreement. It is in the best interest of the child to ensure that equal time is spent with each parent, and also with extended family.

Source: The Washington Post, "How Sharing Custody, Co-Parenting is Part of Our Perfect Life", Nicole Dash, Nov. 6, 2014

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