child with Christmas tree

How can I see my children at Christmas?

This Christmas, the children of separated parents will likely be spending their time travelling between homes, with each parent doing their utmost to make the day as happy as possible. Many young people will enjoy ‘double’ celebrations and receive extra presents.

But what happens if you can’t agree contact at Christmas, and what are your options?
Many family lawyers start getting requests for advice on the issue shortly after the October half term ends. The end of year break is the next major school holiday and parents who don’t live with their children are keen to sort out arrangements.

If you are experiencing difficulties agreeing arrangements for your children this Christmas, please contact us as soon as possible. Our experienced family law solicitors will help you in trying to achieve the best possible outcome.

“Put yourself in your children’s shoes – what would they want?”

Nick Hodson, partner

Five top tips for a happy family Christmas:

  • Communicate with your ex-partner: talking through the arrangements really is the best starting point. The vast majority of separated couples are able to sort out Christmas arrangements between them. It really is much better to agree to a plan together than to find yourselves with one that might be imposed by a court
  • Compromise: inevitably there will need to be some give and take from both sides if the children are going to have the best of both parents. Whatever you agree for this year, can you agree to alternate the arrangements the following Christmas? Perhaps you can you split the day’s celebrations? Sometimes the court will reach a decision whereby the children spend Christmas Eve and Christmas morning with the parent they live with, and spend the rest of the day and overnight with the other parent. Is that something that could work for you and your children?
  • Put yourselves in your children’s shoes: if there is a long distance between the two homes, do the children really want to spend several hours in the car? If you think the children are old enough to have a view, what would they want?
  • Mediation: if you cannot agree the arrangements, consider going to mediation where an independent person may be able to help you reach a sensible compromise
  • Get professional advice: If mediation is not achievable, consider seeking the advice of a family lawyer. It might be that, with their help, an agreement can be reached

Ultimately, if there is no other option, you can apply to the court for a child arrangements order. December is a very busy month for the courts so any application must not be left too late. At the court hearing, the judge or magistrates will try to broker an agreement that meets the needs of the children. Their welfare will be the court’s paramount consideration.


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