Christmas - Contact Arrangements for Children
Christmas contact arrangements for separated parents
The Festive Period can be a difficult time for separated parents. Unless Christmas contact has previously been arranged, either by way of agreement between the parties, or by a Court Order, then the parents will need to try and make the arrangements between themselves.
Contact arrangements during the festive season can often be the cause of a lot of conflict in separated families. Even when there has been a previous Court order, often that order will not address what is to happen over the Christmas and New Year period.
One of the most frequently asked questions is how to share the time over the Christmas period. Some people are of the view that it is better for children to spend one week with their Mum and the other with their Dad, some view that the arrangements should be made day-to-day, or even a sharing of Christmas day. Sadly there is no right or wrong answer. All days over the Christmas period can have their own significance, which could be hard for any parent to miss out on. Always remember that it is "the best interests of the children" that should be at the forefront of your mind whilst making contact arrangements
Think about the children
It is important you focus on the impact of any contact arrangements that are made on your children during the festive period. Think about how and what arrangements your children would want. This is the approach the Court will adopt at Lawson West we would encourage parents to consider this first and foremost when making arrangements for their children.
Sharing Christmas Day
Consider whether sharing Christmas Day is appropriate. For younger children especially it may be more appropriate for one parent to have the children on Christmas Day, and the other parent to have them on Boxing Day. That way, the children can essentially have two Christmases. It means that they are not being rushed away from one parent's home part way through the day when they are quite settled, happy playing with new toys etc. This could then be switched the following year, so that the parent who has the children on Christmas Day this year, will have them on Boxing Day next year, and vice versa. When children are young there are many more Christmases to come in the future.
If you live close together then it may be practical for the day to be shared, so the children have the experience of celebrating with both parents. If you live further away from each other then this approach may not be practical and may cause too much disruption for the children.
Consider whether any previously organised and routine contact will need to be modified in the run up to Christmas Day. Children may have Christmas parties and Christmas events that they may wish to attend or want to see other family members who live some distance away and who they may not be seeing at Christmas time.
What is appropriate, or reasonable, will vary from case to case,
and will depend on the individual circumstances.
Communicate without emotive language
Many separated parents find it difficult or uncomfortable to discuss arrangements for their children, especially at Christmas, which is undoubtedly a busy and stressful period. Try and focus on the issue at hand – communicate via e-mail if face-to-face conversations are difficult. This will give you the opportunity to remove any emotive language and focus on the issues that need to be resolved.
Focus on the future
If you are newly separated, it may be a daunting thought not waking up with your children on Christmas Day. Try not to think about this year but think about the Christmas contact arrangements moving forward. If your children are young then there are going to be plenty of Christmas’ for you to enjoy with them. It may be worth considering proposing that the children have the opportunity to wake up with each of their parents on alternating years.
Stick to the timings agreed
Time is an important factor during Christmas and can be a catalyst for arguments if not respected. Ensure you turn up on time so the children move from one parent to the other without having to wait around. Try to agree well in advance who should be responsible for drop-off and collection. Depending on the ages of the children, it may be appropriate to ensure the children know what is happening and when.
Finally, be prepared to compromise. Divorce and separation regularly causes reasonable, sensible people to behave in a way that is out of character. Compromise allows you to both have ownership of the arrangements and is far more likely to be better for your children.
How to Contact Us
If you cannot reach an agreement with your ex partner regarding Christmas contact, then contact us.
You do not want to be in Court on Christmas Eve trying to get a last minute Contact Order. The sooner the arrangements are made the sooner you can relax and enjoy the build up to Christmas.
Christmas is traditionally a time for families to come together and celebrate – but it can be heartbreaking for separated parents and their children.
We're here to help and advise you and help you through the personal problems you face. You can rely on our experience, expertise and emotional support to put you on the right course of action, a path that's totally right for you.
Get in touch today. We want to help.
Emma Piff, Family Solicitor, Lawson-West Solicitors
With offices in Leicester, Market Harborough and Wigston you can arrange an initial meeting with us to find out how we can help you with Parental Contact, Collaborative Law, Divorce or Separation.
Call 0116 212 1000 for our Leicester Office, 01858 445 480 for our Market Harborough Office or 0116 212 1080 for our Wigston Office. Whichever office you call, someone will be available to assist you.