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Christmas is notoriously difficult for families who are no longer living together.  It can become a time of dread and fear, disappointment and confusion at cancelled arrangements and children not seeing both parents on this special day. With a bit of planning, it does not have to be this way for the children, or for you. Here is our Christmas list of tips to help you ensure that the holiday period is as harmonious as possible.

1. Children
Put your children first. Consider what is best for your children over the holiday period and focus on ensuring that they have as settled and happy a time as possible.

It is a common misconception that parents have a right to see and spend time with their children and while it’s understandable to believe this to be true, the law states that it is in fact the child’s rights that will be considered should legal action be required to reach an agreement.

2. Relatives
Children may want to see relatives who are special to them over the holiday period too. Factor the needs of relatives, particularly those of grandparents, into your holiday arrangements if you can.

3. Presents
Like it or not Christmas ultimately means one most important thing to children – presents!

Wherever possible talk or communication with one another about Christmas presents and consider whether a joint present might be appropriate.  Do not try to buy your child’s affection by attempting to outdo the other parent in the gift-giving department. Consult with them and either set budget guidelines or share the cost.  This will also avoid duplicate presents.

4. Talking

Communication is the key to success. Even though it may be hard, try to keep channels of communication open with your ex-partner to ensure that everything works as smoothly as possible.

5. Manage expectations

The first Christmas after a separation or divorce can be a confusing and a difficult time for everyone. Try your best to manage expectations so that everyone, particularly your children, know what to expect.

6. Agree arrangements

Agree arrangements as far ahead as possible and try to be flexible for the sake of your children. Once you have agreed arrangements, try to keep to them.

7. Sharing

Even though you might want to spend as much time as possible with your children over the holiday period remember that your ex-partner is likely to want to do the same. Try to view things from the point of view of the children, rather than thinking about what you want. Share the time that you have with your children and encourage them to enjoy their time with their other parent.

8. Make the most of your time together

It can be upsetting not being able to spend time with your children on Christmas Day, but if you get it right, you and the children can thoroughly enjoy having two Christmas Days.  It is vital that the children feel loved, cared for and excited to spend time with both their parents at Christmas.

Lawyers can do a lot to help parents who cannot agree arrangements for the festive period to help to resolve these differences through mediation, negotiation or, if absolutely necessary, the court. If you would like further information in relation to children matters or family law generally, please contact one of our family solicitors at Debenhams Ottaway.

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.