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How can divorced or separated parents plan child contact over Christmas?

The festive period can be stressful for separated parents so how can divorced or separated parents plan child contact over Christmas so that their children get to spend quality time with both parents?

As family lawyers, at this time of year we help so many of our clients answer difficult questions around contact arrangements for their children.  These questions are hugely varied.  They can range from discussing who their children will spend Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year with, to what they should do if they feel they are facing the prospect of spending the whole of Christmas without seeing their children at all.

The best thing to do is to plan ahead where possible.  Decisions will be harder to make the longer they are left, and the closer Christmas comes.

If you think the arrangements for children over Christmas is going to be a problem, ask your lawyer for their advice as early as possible.  This will give you time to reach an agreement that suits the needs of both parents and your children without leaving them feeling anxious about where they will spend Christmas.

What child arrangements do I need to think about over Christmas?

Contact arrangements at Christmas will vary depending on the people and circumstances involved and it is important to communicate clearly with each other and agree the plans in advance. Some of the considerations are likely to include:

  • What will be the arrangements for Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Years and can the days be shared?
  • How will the time for the children be shared over the rest of the holidays?
  • Are you going to take it in turns to have your children on the different days on alternate years?
  • Where will the drop-offs/ pick-ups take place and at what time?
  • Do you need to discuss the arrangements for gifts?
  • What will be the arrangements to see grandparents and wider family members?
  • Are there plans for the children to see new partners?
  • Have you agreed to any trips or holidays abroad? 

How do I agree child contact arrangements at Christmas?

It is always best to communicate openly and agree a clear schedule of the shared arrangements  for the children over Christmas in advance. .  However, there will be occasions when separated parents – both of whom will understandably want as much time with their children at Christmas – will not be able to come to a decision.

If this is the case, you should seek legal advice.  With the right advice, you can tailor a schedule of arrangements that will be best suited to your family’s needs.

In the event an agreement cannot be reached, Mediation can really help.

Mediation provides a neutral and independent forum for parents to have discussions around the arrangement and reach an agreement which works for all parties involved.   In some cases, if you cannot agree, you may need to consider asking for the assistance of the court and you should seek legal advice as soon as possible.

Although Christmas is getting closer, if you would like to discuss any issues regarding child contact over Christmas, please contact our hugely experienced Family Law team today.