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Navigating Child Arrangements Over Christmas

on Thursday, 10 November 2022.

The festive period brings joy to children all over the world, however, for divorced and separated families, Christmas can lead to conflicting ideas about where a child should spend the day and the activities they should be part of.

Any decisions regarding child arrangements should have the child's best interests at the forefront.

Communication and Flexibility

The key to amicably making these decisions is engaging in communication with the other parent as early as possible and being constructive with your ideas on how to structure the festive period. It is best to do this in person but we acknowledge that this is not always possible. Where it is not you may prefer to use written communication, such as email or text, to ensure a record is kept of what has been discussed and agreed upon. This assists in reducing any later disputes or uncertainty.

One way to approach this, may be to split the 'significant days' equally ie Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year's Eve.

There are of course plenty of options for how you may decide the Christmas period will look but going into these discussions willing to be flexible allows for the best outcome to be established for all involved. Often separated parents will reach an agreement which includes alternating the pattern the next year.

It is important to remember that whilst this is a special time of the year, it is just a small period and creating an enjoyable time for your child should be the main consideration - they may even enjoy having two 'Christmas days'!

What if We Cannot Agree?

If you are unable to reach an agreement, you may wish to seek advice from a family solicitor or mediator who can support the communications with the other parent. An experienced family lawyer or mediator will facilitate the discussions between you and the other parent to ensure the child's interests are kept at the centre of decision-making and hopefully assist in reaching a mutually agreeable solution as swiftly as possible.

If, however, there is still dispute over these matters then you may need to consider court proceedings. An application will need to be made to the court for a Child Arrangement Order. This application will be considered by a judge who will make a decision about where the children should spend the Christmas period and/or any other times of the year.

How Can We Help?

Agreeing how a child should spend time with their parents can be one of the most difficult aspects of separation and ensuring all decisions are child-focused is crucial. If you need advice on how to make decisions about your child arrangements over the Christmas period or beyond our Family team are here to help.

For further advice regarding child arrangements over Christmas, please contact a member of our Family Team, or complete the form below.

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