With Christmas approaching, you might be worried about sorting out the arrangements for the festive period and the time that your children will spend with you if you are separated or divorced. The downside to Christmas is that it provides ample opportunity for a disagreement to arise between parents over whom a child should spend Christmas Day with, causing inevitable distress for both the child and other family members.
It is important that children have a meaningful relationship with both of their parents, and it will be in the best interests of your children if both parents can reach an agreement about the Christmas period.
Reaching an Agreement on Maintaining Contact with Children at Christmas Time
We would encourage parents to discuss Christmas arrangements at an early stage to avoid any last-minute arguments.
Please see below some tips to consider when sorting out the Christmas arrangements with the other parent:
- Discuss Christmas arrangements as early as possible so that you can make a plan for the festive period
- Consider if any of the usual arrangements will need to be varied over the Christmas period
- Give each other reasonable notice of any plans or issues
- Address the other parent respectfully in front of the children
- Try not to have arguments or heated discussions in front of the children
- Try to listen to each other’s opinions and ideas
What are Common Child Arrangements During the Christmas Period?
Here are some examples of arrangements:
- Christmas Day morning spent with one parent, and Christmas Day afternoon spent with the other. This can be alternated or repeated each year;
- Christmas Day and Boxing Day with one parent, and New Year’s Eve and New Years Day with the other parent. This can be alternated or repeated each year;
- Christmas Eve and Christmas Day morning spent with one parent and Christmas Day afternoon and Boxing Day spent with the other.
What to do if an agreement cannot be reached?
If you have been unable to reach an agreement with the other parent or are struggling to compromise, you should consult a family solicitor. Your solicitor can provide you with further advice and guidance when negotiating with the other parent. Your solicitor may suggest the following:
- Writing to the other parent setting out your proposals with a view to reaching an agreement which is in the best interests of the child.
- Refer you to mediation where you and the other parent would attend joint sessions with an accredited mediator to ascertain whether you can resolve issues in relation to the children. Mediation can be quicker, cheaper and less stressful than attending court.
- To obtain a Child Arrangements Order from the court. It is common for a Child Arrangements Order to be used to make provisions for the Christmas period as this is a special time for families; however, the order can also contain general provisions regarding shared contact that applies year-round.
If you require advice, you can contact the Family Law Team at Myerson Solicitors.
Maintaining Contact with Children at Christmas Time is a feature post