Christmas and Child Arrangements

November 14, 2022

Christmas is less than 42 days away

Have you sorted out the child arrangements for Christmas and New Year?

Now is a good time to agree on the arrangements, and how much time the children will spend with both parents and their extended families.

The Christmas period is a time of uncertainty and increased tension for separated parents and the extended family, especially if the child arrangements are not agreed upon.

There might also be issues related to the type and price of presents bought.

Many separated parents would prefer to have settled arrangements otherwise there is a likelihood that as the days pass one or both parents will become anxious.

These matters are best sorted out between parents, and the court is considered as the last option. Once these sharing plans are in place, the children will know where they will be for each day of the Holiday Period. Routines are important for children and adults.

So, what can be done?

You need to start preparing now

1. Talk to your ex-partner

Now is the time to start talking to your ex-partner about the Christmas arrangements.

Try to agree on arrangements that can work for both of you.

Care should be taken to consider the age of the children, the practicalities and logistics such as travel time, distances, travel facilities, collection and return arrangements, modes of communication, etc.

Some clients try to share Christmas Eve and Christmas Day for example the children could spend Christmas Eve and Christmas Morning with one parent and then the children spend Christmas Lunch with the other parent. However, sometimes this causes too much disruption or is unsuitable for some parents and some parents prefer sharing days alternatively each year.

Also, sometimes things just do not always run to plan, and you might have to be a bit flexible

Improving general communication, especially over this time period will probably reduce the possible difficulties or tensions that might occur.

Jointly deciding on the best method of communication may be helpful.

2. Keep your focus on the children

Your children may be concerned about how and when they will see Daddy or Mummy.

It will be important to reassure them

You may jointly decide to give separate presents. You might jointly decide to tell the children how the presents will be given and where they will receive them.

You might jointly agree that the children have a short video call or facetime with the other parent or the extended family members.

Depending on the age of your children, you can ask them what they want to do. Older children have a voice, and you may wish to factor this into your joint decision-making.

3. Be fair to your ex-partner

The first year is always the most difficult as there are so many raw emotions and expectations from the parents and extended families.

As before, make sure to put the needs of the children first. Especially if they are very young.

If the children are older and able to voice their own wishes, you may wish to factor this into your joint decision-making.

Your ex-partner is probably going through the same emotions, and expectations from his/her family, that you are going through. So, you know it is not easy.

You might wish to evaluate the reasonableness of the plans, based on whether you would find them acceptable in reverse. It is also good to ask yourself if you would be happy with the proposed arrangements next year for yourself. If the answer is no. Then it might be sensible to reconsider the arrangements with a mind to next year and how the arrangements would affect you. Always ask you ex-partner if he/she is happy with the proposed arrangements and be prepared to make some changes to attempt to accommodate them.

4. Last-minute changes

Last-minute changes can cause problems when your ex-partner has made other arrangements that may impact them or their extended family.

Last-minute changes can also introduce disappointment and uncertainty in your children.

You might need to consider some level of flexibility

5. Find out more

If you need further help, please fill in our Get Started Form or call us on 020 8515 2778

We can negotiate with your ex-partner.

We can consider alternative dispute resolution and time scales.

You may need to commence court proceedings. But you are unlikely to get a hearing date before Christmas

Court proceedings can assist parents to resolve their long-term child arrangements. You might wish to get started now so that future arrangements are resolved.

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