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Separated parents – the Christmas period Separated parents – the Christmas period

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Dec 21

Separated parents – the Christmas period

Written by Claire Hunter

DDI: 01423 726620
E: claire.hunter@raworths.co.uk

Christmas can be a joyful, family filled time but for others it can be a time of stress and tension.  For separated parents it can be particularly difficult as they may need to discuss when and where the children will spend the Christmas period and negotiate the time each parent gets to enjoy with their children.

Emotions can run high during this period with parents often feeling fraught due to the extra activities and tasks the festive season brings.

We are regularly contacted by parents at this time of year with queries surrounding the Christmas arrangements for their children and how best to negotiate these with their ex-partner.  In addition, the Covid 19 pandemic has complicated the process and made the experience even more challenging for many.

The Court’s view is that arrangements concerning children should not be brought to Court unless absolutely necessary.  If possible the arrangements should be agreed and negotiated between the parents.  Parents should also remember there are other options to assist parents in communicating with a difficult ex-partner such as mediation and parenting co-ordination.

Here are some tips on managing the process with an ex-partner regarding time spent with the children at Christmas.

  • Prepare early.  Start by opening up the channels of communication with the other parent in good time.  The last thing anybody wants is an argument on the 23 December about where the children will spend Christmas Day.  You could set out your proposal to the other parent and give them time to consider this and provide you with their comments.  So long as this is done in good time it will allow for changes to be made and any disputes that may arise to be resolved.
  • Try and be fair to the other parent. You should be prepared to compromise on your own wishes to ensure that the arrangements are fair to the children and to the other parent.
  • Put the children first.  Explain the positives around the arrangements to the children (where they are old enough to understand these) and allow older children’s views on how they wish to split their time over the Christmas period to be heard.
  • Put your agreement in writing.  If an arrangement is agreed having it in writing (such as email or text message or a shared calendar) means it can be referred to if there are any future difficulties.
  • If there is already an existing Child Arrangements Order this may set out the plan for Christmas which should be adhered to.  If the Order does not set out the arrangements for Christmas and you and the other parent are unable to agree these between you then an application to Court may need to be made. If this is the case you should seek legal advice from your family solicitor in good time and well before the Christmas period.

Communication between separated parents can be difficult.  Resolution has put together a helpful guide which aims to give separated parents access to information to support them through their parenting journey. The guide can be found by clicking this link   

For advice on arrangements concerning children please do not hesitate to contact one of our Family Team on 01423 566 666

Published on 10 December 2021

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