Christmas holiday arrangements and children
If your relationship has broken down, and you have children, you will obviously be concerned for their well-being during the separation process and afterwards. During all the practical considerations that a separation or divorce involves, your child’s emotional and physical needs obviously are of paramount importance to you and, therefore, to us.
Our family law team is experienced in helping parents and families decide the arrangements for their children following a relationship breakdown.
Christmas holiday arrangements
More than any other time, Christmas can be difficult for newly separated families who naturally want to spend as much time with their children as possible. If you do not have plans in place, now is the time to start. Talk to your solicitor now so they can help you put arrangements in place and agree to a timetable with your ex-partner. This may be spending some of the Christmas holidays with you and some time with your ex-partner or maybe even the whole of the festive period with one parent and the next year with the other parent. The decision can depend on what works best for your family, your children’s ages, and your location.
For parents who are not living with their children the Christmas holidays can be really difficult. If you are separated from your partner and you are not hosting Christmas you may feel as though everyone else is enjoying family festivities and you feel more isolated and alone than during the rest of the year. You may feel sad that you cannot watch your children opening their presents on Christmas morning. However, it may be possible to come to an informal agreement with your ex-partner so that everyone is happy over the festive period. Ask our experienced family lawyers about making an agreement.
Make sure you focus on the children
It is important to focus on the children and make the new type of Christmas positive for them – they may have two sets of presents and two types of Christmas day. Ask them what they would like, especially if they are older. If they are old enough, share the plans with your children so they will know what is planned for the holiday.
Making long-term plans
In the long term, you could come to an arrangement of alternating Christmas, so that you get to spend Christmas Day with your children every other year. Where you are not involved on Christmas day you could have an alternative Christmas Day, when you get to do all the traditional festive things, just on a different day so everybody gets to have a full festive experience and the children get to celebrate twice.
Are you being fair to the other parent?
If you are newly separated it may be very difficult to not spend the whole of the Christmas holidays with your children. Are you happy with the proposed plans for this year and next? Is there anything that needs to be reconsidered? Are the plans fair to both of you so you both see the children for a fair amount of time? If not, maybe you should reconsider the plans. Communication is vital so that you do not duplicate presents for your children.
What happens if plans change?
If you reach a long-term agreement it is also important to be flexible in case of last-minute problems. Sometimes plans may have to be changed but last-minute changes can cause feelings of disruption and uncertainty for children. Flexibility is often an essential part of child arrangements; however, it is important to maintain consistency and provide stability for your children.
Grandparents and the children
Obviously, the separation can also affect grandparents. The parents of the non-resident parent will be unlikely to see their grandchildren at Christmas which can be upsetting. Like the non-resident parent, grandparents could try to organise a special day, or a time around Christmas, when they could give their grandchildren presents.
Make the time together special
The time that you do spend with your children over Christmas should be special and full of love. Try and communicate with your ex-partner about presents to buy the children so you do not duplicate what the other is buying. If you have a new partner you will have to consider how to introduce spending Christmas with a new person, which could be difficult both for the children, the ex-partner and the new partner. Sometimes your ex-partner may not want to spend time with the children at Christmas or is unreliable and does not turn up when expected. Obviously, this could cause upset for you and your children. It can be heartbreaking to explain that their other parent will not be coming over Christmas, but it it is important to remain positive, and try not to criticise him or her too much in front of the children, no matter how angry this has made you feel.
Parents who may have to spend Christmas alone
If you know you will be alone on Christmas Day without your children try to make arrangements with your friends or other family. It may be that you know someone in the same situation as you.
Get advice early
It is important to seek advice early in the run-up to Christmas as the season can be a very busy time and organising a co-parenting schedule may not be easy, especially if you find it hard to talk to your ex-partner. We are here to help and if you are struggling to put plans in place this year, please talk to one of our family lawyers who can assist in negotiating an agreement between you.
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