The Christmas holiday season can be stressful for divorced parents. In this article, we will discuss how to best plan for the festive period.
Every year our family law solicitors advise parents who are facing difficult questions around the Christmas holidays following separation. For a lot of families, issues tend to centre around deciding who the children will spend Christmas day or New Year with and what happens when a parent faces spending the whole of Christmas without seeing their children.
Plan ahead where possible
Most families adjust to life after separation with children spending time during the festive period with both parents. If handled sensitively, children adjust quickly and look forward to the opportunity to share their Christmas holiday celebrations with both parts of their family.
Usually, it is the parents who find adjusting to not being able to be with their child over the entire Christmas period the hardest. The key is to plan ahead and not leave difficult decisions to the last minute.
Consider the bigger picture
Some parents tell us that they dread the onset of the festive period and struggle to accept the new arrangements. Long term, the aim is to be able to co-parent over the holiday periods and in such a way that your child will understand that both parents love them and want to spend positive periods of time with them. However, we understand that separation can be a bumpy road, so it’s easier for some to achieve this than others.
Talk to each other
If there are no welfare issues and you are struggling to reach an agreement with your co-parent about sharing a festive period, it’s usually quicker and cheaper to use a mediator rather than going to court. They will arrange a meeting with your former partner, and their solicitor (if any/appropriate) to agree how childcare over the Christmas holidays will be split. Communication is key: airing your thoughts normally pays off, allowing you to negotiate a fair, practical custody agreement over the festive season well in advance.
Ensuring your child can spend time with both parents, and extended family, as well is a factor. Your plans don’t have to focus around the grandparent’s availability but making sure your child can see their extended family over the Christmas holidays is important to the entire family.
Don’t leave your plans to the last minute
If you think Christmas is going to be a problem, seek legal advice well in advance. This will give you time to reach an agreement that suits the needs of both parents and your children.
If you’re struggling to agree on plans this year – or any other time of year– try speaking to a neutral third party or mediator to help you plan ahead as much as possible. Clare Pilsworth is a mediator in our Cambridge office, and she would be happy to have a discussion with you and your co-parent about making the most of the festive period this year.
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Chat to the Author, Sally Powell
Executive Partner, Families and Divorce, Bishop's Stortford officeMeet Sally
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