• Posted

With the end of the school term fast approaching, it is important that divorced or separated families make plans to spend time with their children over the Christmas holidays. Christmas, more than any other time of year, can heighten emotions as it’s frequently portrayed as a time to spend with your family.

With an increasing number of separated families this can be particularly challenging and agreeing arrangements can become difficult, if not impossible. The courts are able to assist and can intervene to set down arrangements if necessary. However no one wants to find themselves in court on Christmas Eve asking the judge for help.

The key is to try to sort arrangements out as soon as possible. For some parents, where there is little communication, text messages or emails may provide a solution. The key to minimising any problems is to think about the children and put their needs first. They don’t want to see or hear adults arguing but want to enjoy the excitement and anticipation of Christmas instead.

Problems can often arise where one or both parents work as their usual school term time arrangements rarely work over the school holidays. Both parents need to think about what alternate arrangements might work and try to agree a compromise, it is the season of goodwill after all. Where there is some dialogue, mediation may help parents who can’t agree arrangements between themselves to work towards a solution. Again plans should be made early as mediators will find themselves particularly busy at this time of year.

If there is a significant geographic distance between the parents, one solution may be to agree to meet half way between the two homes to share the travel time and costs. Another solution would be to extend the time the children spend with the parent they don’t live with or see regularly due to distance. The key is to have realistic expectations about what can be agreed, especially when any young children have not spent any significant time away from home before. It’s unlikely that any significant changes can be agreed over Christmas so it’s best to plan well in advance. Carefully plan a slow build up of the amount of time spent with the other parent rather than any significant sudden increase.

From time to time it may be impossible to reach an agreement. A good family lawyer can advise you on the next steps where efforts to agree arrangements cannot be reached.

The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.