Don’t let your troubled relationship ruin the magic of Christmas!
For separated or divorced parents, Christmas can be difficult. Each parent wanting to share the joy of their children throughout the festive period and not necessarily wanting the inconvenience of sharing that joy with their ex.
However, the likelihood is that your child, or children, will want both parents involved. If they do spend Christmas with just one parent, they are likely to want reassurance that the parent they don’t see hasn’t rejected them in anyway or, that the other parent missing out is OK.
Below are some useful tips that may help estranged parents agree arrangements for their children in the hope that the whole family can enjoy a wonderful and stress free Christmas.
Talk to your former partner now about what you would like to happen. It’s likely that both of you will want quality time with your children.
Take into account the fact that each of you will want a chance to see your child open their presents and to spend time with members of your respective families you may not see that often.
Some parents find that alternating Christmas works well, so that each parent is guaranteed to have every other Christmas with their child and on their year off they may have them on Boxing Day instead.
Others are happy to split Christmas Day in half, so that one parent has their child on Christmas Eve and Christmas morning and the other has them Christmas afternoon and for most of Boxing Day.
Handover arrangements are important
Think about transport arrangements if one or both of you is likely to have had a drink and how you will accommodate your child’s almost inevitable desire to take presents they have already opened with them.
Consider asking family or friends to get involved in collecting or dropping off your child if this would help but choose relatives that will keep the atmosphere amicable.
Communication is essential
Whatever their age, knowing which parent they will be with and when, and if they are likely to see you together, can help avoid uncertainty and anxiety.
If your child is old enough to understand what is going on, then it is a good idea to explain the arrangements you have agreed. While young children may be happy to fit in with your plans, teenagers may have plans of their own which need to be considered.
Christmas is a busy time of the year, with school plays and parties as well as family commitments to fit in.
Mediation may help
If you and your former partner cannot agree on arrangements for your child that work for everyone, talk to your solicitor about how mediation could help.
Sometimes, working with a neutral person with no vested interest in the outcome (other than the happiness of your child) can help to resolve deep-rooted differences in opinion and find creative solutions you may not have previously considered.
If you have a Child Arrangements Order in place, it is likely that the question of what will happen at Christmas will have already been agreed, but it is still possible that problems may arise, particularly if you or your former partner want to make different arrangements this year.
A court order may be necessary
Talk to your solicitor now if your former partner is being difficult because the court tends to see an increase in applications around this time of year, which means you may have to wait for your case to be heard.
You will also need to attend a mediation information and assessment meeting which can take time to organise.
ABOUT DANIEL RUSHTON
Daniel has over 20 years’ experience as a specialist family law solicitor. He is Head of the Family Law team at Grindeys Solicitors based in Stoke on Trent.
Daniel has a particular interest and experience in dealing with business owners, company directors and members of the medical profession in matrimonial situations. For this type of work a solicitor who understands your business accounts and business structure is vital to obtain the best financial settlement possible.
Recent cases include one involving an international business and extremely valuable assets and pensions, as well as property abroad.
He has acted for numerous doctors and other medical professionals, council workers, police officers and serving members of the armed services. In twenty-three years, Daniel has dealt with all walks of life and will adopt a professional yet caring approach to your situation.