Associate Solicitor Hannah Porter from The Family Law Company provides tips for separated parents at Christmas
With only a few weeks left until Christmas, excitement is building especially for children. But what if you have separated from your child’s other parent? I’ve set out three useful steps to help you navigate the minefield of emotions that organising Christmas can bring.
- Put your children first
Rather than focusing on what you want to happen, think about what the children want. Each child and each family set-up is different. Moving your child between different homes over the Christmas period may upset them – or they may love it! Think about the locality of your home and the other parent’s home, and factor in siblings and family members your child will want to spend time with. This may mean that your child sees both of you at different times over Christmas, or spends all of Christmas with one parent on alternate years. Keep in mind that your child will want to feel relaxed and loved over Christmas – and have lots of fun. This will help you make suitable arrangements.
- Don’t leave it until the last minute
If you don’t already have an agreement, sort it out soon before the stress of present buying and turkey cooking hits home. If you live in a different part of the country to your child or their other parent, travel arrangements need to be made. Wider family members may want input and if your children are older, they will have their own opinion too. It may be that what worked last year isn’t going to work this year and you’ll need to find an alternative solution. Keep discussions as polite and open as possible and understand that while you may have a fixed idea of what is best for your child, the other parent may disagree. Discussing Christmas early gives time for you to a reach compromise and work around each other’s plans and expectations.
- Don’t spoil your child’s Christmas
Wanting to see your children at Christmas could cloud your judgement about what’s best for them. As painful as it seems, backing down about Christmas contact and seeing your children after the Christmas period might be the right option. They will not feel happy if you are arguing about Christmas; however subtle you think the arguing is, children are remarkably astute and will be aware of any acrimony between you and their other parent. And it really isn’t practical to apply to court for an urgent hearing about Christmas contact. The court diary is so full you would be unlikely to get a date before January – and seeing a mediator is a prerequisite to all court applications.
The great thing about Christmas is that it comes around every year so if you can’t agree this year, there’s plenty of time to get something sorted for Christmas 2020.
Problems arranging contact over Christmas may highlight general problems you are experiencing with seeing your children. If you need advice, please contact The Family Law Company on 01392 421 777.