Christmas holidays can be a difficult time for separated parents if they have not yet agreed the arrangements for the children. Unless it is not in the children’s best interests, the presumption is that the children spend time with both parents during the Christmas holidays. How you divide the time will depend on the individual circumstances of your case.
Here are my top tips:
- Plan the arrangements for Christmas contact as early as possible. Consider how best to communicate this. Is it face to face, email, over the telephone or by text message?
- Be prepared to compromise. Consider it a discussion rather than dictate to the other parent, and avoid the conversation in front of the children. The sooner everyone knows where they stand, the less stressful it is as each parent can make their own plans with the children.
- Consider whether sharing Christmas Day is best for the children. This could work well if the parents live close to each other. Or, one parent could have the children on Christmas Day and the other parent has them on Boxing Day. You could then alternate this the following year. You may need to consider whether the children will spend time with their extended family and the distances involved. Encourage the children to talk about having 2 Christmas’, one with each parent.
- Ensure that handover times and places are agreed before Christmas so that there is no misunderstanding. It is good to record this in some way.
- Discuss with the other parent what you plan to buy the children for Christmas, or perhaps offer the parent some ideas. This will show the children that you have worked together, and will avoid duplication of presents.
An application to court to resolve the arrangements is the last resort – family mediation is a quicker and cheaper way to sort things out.
If you struggle to talk to the other parent and need some legal advice, then remember to consult a solicitor who is a member of Resolution. Under the code of conduct, the solicitor should adopt a non-confrontational approach, which will save money and is less stressful.