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Amicable visitation is the best Christmas gift for children

How one views the holidays can be affected by various things. A combination of childhood memories, movies and observing other families may shape one's expectations over the years. California residents who are going through divorce may find that the changes in living arrangements create unexpected tensions when it comes to their children and visitation arrangements.

It can be very difficult for any non-custodial parent to come to terms with the probable reduction in contact with his or her children, and holiday periods may be more painful as a result. Visitation may be problematic at times. If parents leave it until it's too late to make satisfactory arrangements to cover the holidays, then everyone potentially loses out. Families often enjoy opening gifts together, and this may be one of the most emotional elements of the holiday that changes as a result of divorce.

It may be tempting to compete with one's estranged spouse when it comes to gift giving; however, it is better wherever possible to consult each other, to ensure that the gifts are appropriate for, and welcomed by, the children. There is no reason why both parents can't contribute to a more expensive item jointly. If new partners are involved then a calm discussion about the part they will play during the holidays will allow everyone to understand his or her role, and hopefully create a more relaxed atmosphere.

Extending the hand of friendship may feel awkward for some California residents; where an agreement around visitation cannot be reached amicably, it may be helpful to consider mediation in order to facilitate a less stressful discussion. Future visitation may come easier as a result of an amicable and smooth festive period. However, if this does not prove to be the case, then other legal options may be available that suit one's circumstances. In any event, allowing children to develop and maintain a strong relationship with both parents is perhaps the best gift for the entire family.

Source: Vogue, "6 Tips for Surviving the Holidays When You're Divorced With Kids", Alexandra Macon, Dec. 20, 2016

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