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Goodwill to all, especially with visitation arrangements

Thanksgiving and Christmas are two of the biggest and most family-oriented holiday periods on the calendar: a time of peace and joy for most people. However, for those considering divorce, the holidays may be difficult and even painful. California residents whose families have already broken up will be familiar with the angst that accompanies the separation from one's children, when visitation may be dependent upon the goodwill of an estranged spouse.

A person who did not live up to expectations as a spouse is not necessarily a bad parent. Unfortunately, there are those who do not consider whether this is true of their own situations, and some will use visitation times to punish or manipulate the other parent. Acting in this manner may not only be distressing for the child or children, it may also create legal problems for the parent who is deliberately obstructing the child's relationships with other family members.

Usually, child support and visitation are dealt with as separate issues; however, a case of parental alienation in New York recently set an astonishing precedent. It has been reported that a mother deliberately obstructed the father's access to his son to such an extent that the court ruled that the father would no longer be required to make child support payments. As the laws relating to children and divorce continue to evolve, it is possible that even greater penalties, such as fines or even jail time, may be imposed upon those who attempt to alienate their children from the other parent.

One should not impede a parent-child relationship without good reason. Where there are justifiable grounds to restrict visitation, one must go through the correct channels -- both to stay on the right side of the law as well as to protect the child. Family laws differ from state to state, so it is vital that California residents ensure that they understand how these laws relate to individual circumstances.

Source: kare11.com, "Family law trends you need to know before you divorce", Diana Pierce, Nov. 23, 2015

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