As the season turns it is time to start thinking about Christmas plans. This can often be a stressful time for parents who have separated and both wish to spend time with the children over the festive period.


No matter whether the separation is recent and raw or long-settled and amicable; we often find that emotions can run high at this time of year and tension can build – which of course does no good for the children, who are all too often caught in the middle.


Here are our top tips for a Christmas everyone can enjoy:


#1 Plan Ahead

The shops are already stacking their shelves with Christmas stock and although it seems premature, it is best to plan early to avoid pressure and allow for negotiations and discussions. If you do run into problems agreeing on arrangements and need to seek legal advice, you don’t want to be leaving it until the last minute. If you expect there to be an issue, approach this is a calm and clear manner, perhaps through an email to your ex-partner.


#2 Put The Children First

Amongst the chaos of reaching an agreement in can be easy for parents to forget to consider what is best for the children. With older children it may be suitable to ask for their input on where they would like to be for Christmas but with younger children it is advised not to get them involved. Your children should not overhear any disagreements and pressuring them into your desired plans can cause upset and anxiety.

#3 Remain Flexible

It can be difficult to split contact equally over the busy holidays. It is a good idea to offer flexibility and alternate the agreements year on year. For example children may spend Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with Mum, and then Christmas Day evening and Boxing Day with Dad in 2018, then switch this arrangement around for 2019.


Remember Christmas isn’t just about the 25th December for the Children; there are school holidays to accommodate, Christmas shopping, nativity plays, family celebrations, New Year – even things like Christmas movie nights and visits to see ‘Santa’ that can all be enjoyed by parents and children alike. If you feel like you are missing out on contact over the Christmas period, try to enjoy as many activities during the exciting build up as possible.


#4 Think Outside The Box

If distance or work commitments are an issue at this time of year consider how you can enjoy contact with your children without physically being present. Skype calls, FaceTime, messaging or perhaps sending a special gift in advance will all help you to be there for your Children on Christmas Day. It is always advised to pre-agree on contact so that a call doesn’t impact on plans made with the other parent – discuss this in advance and ensure that you stick to the times.


#5 Communication

Putting disagreements aside and co-operating will make trying to arrange time much easier. Once you have decided on a plan it is a good idea to explain this to children as they often worry about their parents. Remember that teenagers and older children may have their own plans with friends over the holidays so this will need to be factored in and managed by both parents.


Parenting Plans can help you reach agreement; these are particularly useful for parents with younger children and can be found on the Resolution website or by clicking here. If you are having trouble reaching agreement, a Solicitor may be able to assist you with a mediation session. Working with a neutral person can eliminate past problems, focus on what is best for the children and can help find a solution that you might not have considered.


Above all else, remember to enjoy the Christmas period with your children and the rest of your family and make sure you cherish every moment.


If you would like advise then please do not hesitate to contact our Family Department on 01256 844888 or email julia.mcguigan@lambbrooks.com


The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice.  The law may have changed since this article was published.   Readers should not act on the basis of the information included and should take appropriate professional advice upon their own particular circumstances.