Child custody and visitation may be strained over the holidays

Around this time of the year, separated or divorced couples often face extra anxiety over the enforcement or implementation of their child custody and visitation orders. Generally, in California a property settlement and final separation agreement will have a detailed child custody and visitation agreement attached or incorporated therein. Alternatively, the parties may have entered a separate agreement that was executed independently of the final settlement of other matters between them.

In either event, it is usually the case that the custody and visitation order sets forth the precise details of the hours, days and terms of holiday visitation matters. That doesn't mean, however, that the parents do not face additional stress at this time of the year. For one thing, someone always needs to change the hours prescribed by the written order. That may be even more true when one parent is traveling into the state to have visitation or where one or more children are taking air flights to be with the out-of-state parent.

The parents will do well to handle these matters with trust and in a reasonable spirit of cooperation. That is the best way to conduct a custody and visitation agreement. The children will be negatively impacted if they see that the parents cannot agree on any point and are always breaking down emotionally over the implementation of some seemingly simple rules.

One way to combat last-minute crises from arising is to take up schedule changes with the other parent months or weeks prior to the holiday. Passive-aggressive waiting to the last minute in the secret hope of causing a crisis is poor parenting and such habits have a way of reverberating against the offending parent. Additionally, some parents tend to want to dictate what the other parent wants to do for a holiday or vacation visitation period. California family law judges are adept at spotting vindictive or spiteful actions by parents and they are quite willing to modify the child custody/visitation order where the best interests of the children are at stake. Ultimately, parents and children can thrive best in a family relationship that promotes harmony and shared contact.

Source: divorcemag.com, "4 Considerations for Holiday Child Custody Arrangements", David J. Glass, Nov. 14, 2017

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