Last Updated on 28.1.21 by Kerry Lees-Russell
Agreeing what the arrangements for children will be over the Christmas period can be a stressful and emotional issue for separated parents.
It is obviously a very special family time and who doesn’t want to watch their children’s eyes light up when they open their presents from Santa. It is important however to ensure that the children have quality time with both parents during this festive period and the key to ensuring a harmonious and peaceful Christmas is to agree on the arrangements for the children at the earliest opportunity. Think about what is going to be in the best interests of the children and be willing to compromise if necessary. Don’t leave it to the last minute, get the plans agreed well in advance and make the children feel secure and happy with the plans as soon as possible.
It is common for parents in the midst of separation to focus simply on which parent the children will live with and what contact they will have with the other parent however Christmas can often be overlooked especially if the separation occurs earlier on in the year. It is therefore important to agree on what the children’s arrangements for all holiday periods throughout the year at the earliest opportunity. Many parents agree on the following arrangements for the festive period:
- This year, the children stay with their father overnight on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day and then stay with their mother on Boxing Day and the following day. This arrangement then continues on alternative years.
- The children spend Christmas day with both parents so they wake up with their mother on Christmas day morning and go to their father mid-afternoon to spend the rest of the day and evening with their father.
Although the above are examples of the common arrangements agreed between parents there really isn’t a one size fits all solution and parents should consider first and foremost what would be the best situation for the children. If parents live a fair distance apart, it may be better for the children to spend blocks of several days with each parent instead or it may be, depending on the children’s ages, that the parents take into account the children’s wishes.
Leaving the arrangements until just before Christmas often makes things even more heated and with uncertainty all around. Unfortunately, for some warring parents, it is not always possible to agree on the arrangements in advance and some parents are left with no other option than to apply to the family court to resolve the issue. However, it can be difficult to predict the outcome of such litigation because different judges and magistrates will have sometimes quite diverse views on how these disputes should be resolved. That said, court proceedings are usually the very last resort.
Remember that Christmas is about providing the children with a magical experience and most of all it is important to make them feel loved and secure. Don’t be on Santa’s naughty list, no child should ever feel torn. If it isn’t your turn with the children on Christmas Day this year, relax, crack open the egg-nog and toast the fact that you will get your opportunity to celebrate with them. After all, how many of us have ever heard of a child complaining about having two Christmas Days?!
If you have any issues in relation to making arrangements for children following separation, whether at Christmas or any other holiday period, Kerry Russell will be able to advise and assist on the various option available to find a solution. Contact our Family Law team on 0161 930 5151 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.