seeing your children at Christmas when you're separated

Seeing your children at Christmas when you're separated

This Christmas, the children of separated parents will probably spend the festive period travelling between homes, with each parent doing their utmost to make the day as happy as possible. Undoubtedly, many of those children will enjoy ‘double’ celebrations and receive extra presents.

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.

Heather Lucy, family law solicitor, offers her advice around this issue.

First of all, it’s important you 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.

Can you compromise?

Inevitably, to make matters work for all concerned, 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.

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.

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