I can’t even begin to imagine how hard it must be to manage Christmas when you’re separated or divorced and have children to take into account. I thought I’d share a couple of ideas on how to best cope with the situation in case you’re struggling right now to plan a Christmas that will work for everyone.
I’m definitely going to start with the obvious one here but always, always try and remember that your children should always be your top priority when it comes to making a plan for Christmas. I know that we all like to think that we would absolutely put any issues aside but I know that’s easier said than done and some of the posts that I’ve seen on social media lately have highlighted that there are parents who simply aren’t able to do this for one reason or another which means that there’s a whole other set of parents who are dreading Christmas as they won’t be spending time with their children.
Here are some top tips for coping with Christmas after separation…
- Always discuss Christmas arrangements as early as possible so everyone is super clear about what’s going to be happening which means that you can all make plans and should also mean that there are no last-minute dramas.
- Try and be flexible with each other and understand that arrangements are likely to change over Christmas
- Give each other as much notice of any plans or issues but be understanding if things need to change at the last minute if there’s a good reason.
- Try to listen to each other’s opinions and ideas and don’t rule out the other’s ideas on principle.
- Think about your plans from the perspective of the children.
- Try not to have arguments or heated discussions in front of the children.
Here are some common examples of arrangements during Christmas:
- Christmas Day morning spent with one parent, and Christmas Day afternoon spent with the other. This can be alternated or repeated each year.
- Christmas Day, Boxing Day with one parent, and New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day with the other parent. This can be alternated or repeated each year.
- Christmas Eve and Christmas Day morning spent with one parent and Christmas Day afternoon and Boxing Day spent with the other.
- You might even want to try spending the day together so the kids get both of you at the same time. Not always possible and rarely simple but if you can put aside differences for the day then the kids are pretty much guaranteed a better day
What if you can’t reach an agreement?
If you simply can’t reach an agreement about the time the children spend with you at Christmas then you should consult a family solicitor. Your solicitor can provide you with further advice and guidance when negotiating with the other parent and may suggest the following:
Mediation could be an alternative solution and will generally be one of the first things that your solicitor suggests to you because it’s often cheaper, less stressful, and just easier all around than resolving your issues through the courts. Mediation is where an independent, professionally trained mediator helps you and the other parent find to reach an agreement.
A good law firm like Myerson Solicitors already has good relationships with accredited mediators who can provide you with the right information and support so, if it ends up as the worst-case scenario and you’re unable to reach an agreement between yourselves then you know that you’ve tried your very best.
If mediation doesn’t work, your solicitor may suggest writing to the other parent and taking the time to set out your proposals to reach an agreement that is in the best interests of the child.
As a last resort, they may suggest that you obtain a Child Arrangements Order from the court. It’s common for a Child Arrangements Order to be used to make provisions for the Christmas period as this is a special time for families; however, the order can also contain general provisions regarding shared contact that applies year-round.
The Christmas period can cause considerable stress and concern for separated parents. If you’re struggling to sort Christmas after separation and need help then contact the Family Law Team at Myerson Solicitors for more advice.
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