October 11, 2022
If you and your child’s other parent are no longer living together, you will need to make arrangements for the Christmas period. Working out early on where your child will spend each day avoids last-minute stress and disputes that cannot be settled in time for the festive period.
With family courts experiencing a backlog of cases, it is particularly important to resolve matters early this year because if you do need the help of a judge in making arrangements, you may have to wait for a court appointment.
The legal position for separated parents at Christmas
If you have a child arrangements order in place, this may set out which days a child should spend with each parent over Christmas. If not, then parents should come to an agreement between themselves wherever possible. The courts prefer that a case is only brought where it is unavoidable.
If the court is asked to decide, it will consider what it believes to be in the best interests of the child.
How a shared Christmas can work
Sharing a family Christmas is never easy. One way that parents deal with the issue is by alternating Christmases, so that their child spends one Christmas with one parent, then the next year with the other.
If parents live close enough together, then Christmas Eve could be spent with one parent with the child waking up in that house on Christmas morning, then they could spend the rest of the day and Christmas night with the other parent. For small children, it is best to avoid too much travelling around Christmas, however.
The parent who does not have the child on Christmas Day itself could hold their celebration on an alternative day, to include giving gifts and having Christmas lunch then.
How to agree child arrangements for Christmas
You can start by talking to or emailing your child’s other parent to put forward your ideas. It is important to try and discuss the options and your views calmly to avoid the situation becoming fraught.
Think about the practicalities, such as travel, and which other relatives might be around if you would like your child to spend time with them as well.
You can also discuss gifts so that these are balanced and well-thought out.
If you are able to reach an agreement, it is advisable to put this in writing so that misunderstandings can be avoided, and no details are forgotten. You can also discuss what will be happening with your child so that they are prepared.
Legal help and mediation
If you are finding it hard to come to an agreement with your child’s other parent, you are advised to try and resolve matters sooner rather than later. This can avoid difficulties over the Christmas period and will also give you and your child time to adjust and discuss what will be happening.
An expert family solicitor can also step in on your behalf to advise you and negotiate. They will be able to send an initial letter to your child’s other parent or their solicitors setting out some acceptable options.
A solicitor can also refer you to mediation where necessary. A neutral mediator will help you both to consider the options open to you and to see whether you can reach an agreement.
Contact our divorce and family solicitors in Gloucester
If you are separated or divorced and you would like to talk to an expert family law solicitor about childcare arrangements for Christmas, our team will be happy to hear from you.
Our divorce and family partner and solicitor, Christopher Price, has many years of experience in dealing with child arrangements and will be able to advise you of your options and the best course of action for you and your child.