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Be consistent and considerate in the best interest of the child

The holiday season is upon us, but this joyous time can also be fraught with tension. Even the happiest of families may experience some measure of stress, as the pressure to create the perfect celebration mounts. California residents who are going through a divorce may feel that they are treading a very fine line between what they feel is in the best interest of the child and what their estranged spouse believes is best. This may relate to such matters as the giving of gifts or visitation times.

It is natural for a parent to wish to spoil his or her child at Christmas, but inconsistency can create bad feelings between the parents and confusion for the child. For example, the custodial parent may request that the other parent refrain from buying certain items as gifts. There may be several reasons for this request, such as imposing a sanction for misbehavior. This does not prevent the non-custodial parent from selecting alternative gifts that can still bring a great deal of pleasure. Further, after making such a request, it would be unfair for the custodial parent to then make gifts of the prohibited items.

Visitation may be another difficult area to navigate. Both parents, and perhaps extended family, will wish to spend time with the child. It may require careful negotiation, but with a spirit of compromise, it should be possible for parents to come to an amicable arrangement. This can allow everyone to spend an equitable level of quality time together.

In all cases, the best interest of the child should prevail. Whatever time of the year, if California parents find it hard to agree on such matters, they may wish to consider the services of a mediator. This neutral third party can facilitate a discussion that allows both parents to understand each other's viewpoint and reach agreements on how best to work together in the best interest of the child. A consistent approach from both parents can help in reassuring a child at this difficult time.

Source: The Huffington Post, "The 'Critical' Thing Divorced Parents Need To Discuss Before The Holidays", Kira Brekke, Dec. 23, 2014

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