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Countdown to Christmas

We know it’s not even Halloween yet but with Christmas less than two months away you need to make sure you start talking to your ex-partner as soon as possible about the arrangements for your child, or children, over the festive period.

Christmas is such a special time of year, especially when you have a child. Most people want to be with their child on Christmas Day but that isn’t always possible when the parents have separated. Discussions about who the child will be spending time with on Christmas Day itself and also more generally over the holiday season can become heated and emotional but it doesn’t need to be like that.

Here are some things to consider:

  • Think about what your child will want and what will be best for them first of all; depending on their age it may be appropriate to ask them what their preference would be. Try to ensure that any plans you make give them a “Merry Christmas” rather than just making you and your ex-partner feel like you got your ‘fair share’ of their time.
  • Consider whether sharing Christmas Day itself is appropriate. This will obviously depend on various factors, such as the age of your children and the distance between where you and your ex-partner live. Younger children will often be happier spending the whole day in one place and then spending Boxing Day with the other parent. Remember, no child will object to a second visit from Father Christmas or a second round of presents and it won’t matter to them whether it’s the 25th or the 26th (or any other date)!
  • If the child is school aged, remember you have the whole school holiday period to consider, not just the key days. Think about giving the child good quality periods of time with each parent and ways to make other days fun and festive, particularly if you aren’t going to be seeing your child on Christmas Day or Boxing Day.
  • Try not to discuss your arrangement with your ex-partner in front of the child or at a handover, particularly if the discussion is likely to get heated. Arrange a separate time to speak and tell your ex-partner in advance what you want to discuss so that they have a chance to think about it and don’t feel ambushed, which is likely to make them defensive and more inclined to disagree with your ideas.
  • Once your plans have been agreed explain them to your child, in an age appropriate manner, so that they know what is going to be happening and feel secure.
  • If you have a Court order in place make sure you check what it says about school holidays generally and Christmas specifically. Make sure both you and your ex-partner have the same understanding of what the order means. Hopefully no further discussion will be needed, but if something has changed since the order was made and changes are required then follow the rest of the tips above!
  • If you aren’t going to be seeing your children on Christmas Day this year, particularly if it’s your first year without them, make sure you plan something nice for yourself. It’s important that your children feel confident that you will be alright without them and don’t feel guilty for enjoying their Christmas without you.

Of course, we understand that in some situations it won’t be possible to agree arrangements, however hard you try, and at that stage you are likely to need some legal advice and possibly to make an application to Court. In those circumstances we would advise you to contact us as soon as possible so that we have time to try and help you secure the contact you want this Christmas.

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