Agreeing on arrangements for Children over the festive period can be quite stressful as both parties are bound to want to spend as much time as possible with their children. However, it is vital to make sure that the children are put first to ensure that they get to enjoy the magic of this time of year.
Ann Davies, Partner and Head of the Family Team at Lamb Brooks Solicitors in Basingstoke offers some useful tips to separated parents trying to agree arrangements for their children.
Don’t leave it until Christmas Eve to decide on who will be spending the day with the children. Many children thrive on plans and routines and it will be easier for them to grasp if they also know where they will be staying for Christmas.
Talk to your former partner ahead of time and take into account that both of you will want quality time with your child to open presents, enjoy Christmas dinner and visit family. Some families find that alternating Christmases each year works well, others prefer to split Christmas Day in half so that one parent has the children for Christmas Eve and Christmas morning and the other parent has them Christmas afternoon / evening and Boxing Day.
However you decide on sharing time with the Children ensure that plans are made in plenty of time and that the arrangements are stuck to.
It is important to consider the drop-offs and pick-ups around Christmas, particularly as there is the added complication of festive drinking – ensure that you have organised transport accordingly and that the handovers are civil to avoid spoiling what should be a special occasion for children.
If your relationship with your former partner is particularly strained, consider a family member handing over the children to avoid animosity.
It is also important to understand that children may wish to bring presents and new toys with them, this can trigger conflict so it is best to decide ahead of time if this will be allowed or arrange that any new items are looked after and returned at a later date.
Talk it through
It is a good idea to explain the arrangements to your children (if they are old enough to understand). Also consider that older children and teenagers may wish to make their own plans with friends over the Christmas period and these will need to be managed between the parents.
Children often worry about their parents, particularly if one parent appears to be ‘missing out’ on seeing them. Reassure you child that you are OK and speak to them about the plans that you have when you are all together to put their mind at ease. It is important that you do not inflict your frustrations onto your child by arguing within earshot or telling them that you are upset with the arrangements.
If you are having trouble agreeing on arrangements that work for everyone, a Solicitor may be able to help with mediation. Working with a neutral person who considers the children’s happiness, can help resolve differences and find a solution that you may not have considered.
If you need any assistance formalising arrangements with children following a separation or divorce, please speak to Ann Davies in our Family Team on 01256 305596 or email email@example.com.