Giles Wilson’s Associate Solicitor specialising in Family Law, Rachael Haine, discusses how a bit of forward planning and a cool head can ensure that children whose parents are separated can have a special Christmas involving both parents.
The Festive Period can be a tough time for separated parents. Unless you’ve already made long-term Christmas arrangements, either by way of an agreement between the two of you, or by a Court Order, then you’ll need to try and make contact arrangements between yourselves.
It’s always best to approach the subject of Christmas contact with your ex-partner as early as possible. Try to have an agreement in place well in advance of the Festive Period so that everyone knows where they stand, and can make plans for the big day. Though it can seem like the most impartial approach, it’s best to avoid asking the children where they would prefer to spend their Christmas holidays. It is not fair to expect them to be the decision makers and it can place them under unnecessary pressure. The Family Court approaches contact by looking at the best interests of the children as objectively as possible.
It’s worth considering whether sharing Christmas Day is appropriate. If you are newly separated, it may be a daunting thought not waking up with your children on Christmas Day. But try not to think about this year in isolation. Think instead about how to make even-handed and amicable Christmas contact arrangements moving forward. If your children are young, then there are going to be plenty of Christmases for you to enjoy with them. Maybe suggest that the children have the opportunity to wake up with each of their parents on alternating years? For younger children especially, it may be more appropriate for one parent to have the children on Christmas Day, and the other parent to have them on Boxing Day. That way, the children can enjoy two Christmases! It means that they are not being rushed away from one parent's home part way through the day when they are quite settled, happily playing with their new toys or watching Doctor Who… This arrangement can then be switched for the following year.
Once you’ve reached an agreement, it can be helpful to exchange texts or e-mails to confirm what has been agreed to avoid any misunderstanding.
Don’t forget to make "emergency plans" for any unexpected circumstances, for example, if bad weather makes travelling difficult or impossible. You and your ex should always know how to contact the other, or a close relative, in the case of an emergency.
If you cannot reach an agreement with
your ex-partner regarding Christmas contact, then contact
Giles Wilson for specialist legal advice as soon as possible. You certainly
don’t want to be in Court just before Christmas trying to get a last-minute
Contact Order. The sooner the arrangements are made, the sooner you can relax
and enjoy the build up to Christmas.
We understand it can be an emotional time, which is why, in all our dealings around this sensitive issue, we make it our priority to ensure that children come first and get to enjoy the best Christmas possible with their parents.