The run-up to Christmas can be one of the most stressful times of year for divorced or separated parents. With the festivities only just under a month away, working out the logistics of where the children are going to spend the holidays can be tough, even for parents who are on the best of terms. Our advice is that you start thinking about arrangements now, if you haven’t already done so.

Whether you’ve yet to broach the subject of Christmas with your ex-partner, or you’re stuck in a stalemate and are unable to agree child arrangements over the festive period, read on to find out how we can help.

Try to come to an informal arrangement with your ex

When it comes to child arrangements, parents are encouraged to try to reach an agreement between themselves about who the children will live with and how contact will work, before involving the courts.

Understandably, both parents usually want to see their children during the Christmas period. The sooner you sort out how the festive season is going to work with regards to child arrangements, the better.

If possible, sit down with the other parent, ideally when someone else is looking after the children so there are no interruptions. Begin the discussion with both of you aware that you are going to have to compromise.

Think creatively: can the day be split or can the children have two Christmases? Could you swap staying in the house together on Christmas Day for doing something amazing around New Year for a couple of days?

Make arrangements for future years, too

One common compromise is that children spend one Christmas Day with one parent, the next with the other.

Agreeing what you’ll do for Christmas in the future, as well as this year, can help to alleviate the stress of future Christmases and provide comfort to a parent who might feel they have ‘missed out’ this year.

For the year your children aren’t with you, you could even arrange a ‘fake Christmas’. That way, you get to celebrate with your children and your children get to have all the festive fun twice.

Don’t be afraid to ask your solicitor for help

If you and your ex are unable to reach an agreement, your family solicitor is there to lend a hand. They can make proposals and advise on the best way to present those proposals to the other person so you can achieve what you want.

Alternatively, you could try mediation, where an independent third party will aid discussions between you and your ex.

Court is an option if you’ve given mediation a shot and it won’t work but you should be aware that unless your application has some sort of urgency (risk to the children, an unlawful removal of them from you/retention of them) the likelihood of getting a hearing date before this Christmas is low.  Your solicitor should be the first port of call to try and sort things out in time for this year’s big day.  Get in touch today to speak to one of our specialist family lawyers about how we could help you to reach an agreement regarding child arrangements over Christmas.

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