Now that Halloween is over, the shops and media have quickly pressed the button on Christmas. The shelves are stacked, turkeys are in the freezer, and it won’t be long before Maria Carey is on our radios!


Whilst the build up to Christmas can be an exciting and joyous time for families, for those bringing up children separately, it can be stressful.


Last year Christmas was trickier to navigate due to the Covid restrictions on family members getting together and travelling over the festive period. This year, hopefully, families have more to look forward to, but this will mean getting your plans finalised soon if you are separated from your children’s mother or father.


Our Divorce & Family Lawyers at Lamb Brooks tend to take a few phone calls from stressed parents at this time of year who are unhappy with their arrangements or feeling frustrated with unsuccessful conversations around Christmas contact.


Here they share some useful tips for negotiating your Christmas plans after divorce or separation…


#1 Plan Early


We always recommend that separated parents should plan ahead when it comes to special occasions such as children’s birthdays, holidays and Christmas. That way everyone knows where they stand, including the children. Having a plan in advance also gives plenty of time for conversations to be had and agreements to be made. Having a disagreement about Christmas just a week before the day can leave families in turmoil. Planning ahead gives you time to seek legal advice if required.


#2 Remain Calm


If you do not have an amicable relationship with your ex-partner or you anticipate the conversation around Christmas contact to be a difficult one, then it is important to tackle it calmly. Try to avoid arguing or raising voices if things do not go how you planned. Sometimes conversations are best had over email if you find that arguments spiral during face-to-face conversations. If things get heated, take some time out and come back to the conversation after some thought.


#3 Be Fair and Reasonable


It can be difficult to split time equally between both parents, but it is important to try to keep the contact arrangements fair so that your children get to enjoy this time with both parents and extended families. Not every year will seem ‘fair’, but it is important to remember that the following year may swing more in your favour.


#4 Put the Children First


Make sure that you don’t overlook what is best for the children whilst reaching an agreement. Depending on the age of your children, you might wish to discuss Christmas plans with them, but take care not to involve them in your disputes or put any pressure on them.


single dad christmas child contact separated parents christmas divorce

#5 Be Flexible


Being adaptable can go a long way when negotiating plans with an ex-partner. Allowing an ex-partner to have some additional time or offering to help out can result in some goodwill which, in turn, may make the arrangements for the following year easier.


#6 Think Outside the Box


Remember that Christmas is not all about the 25th December. There are lots of activities and traditions that families can enjoy in the run up to Christmas Day and in the following festive period before children return to school / college / nursery. If you are not spending Christmas day with your children this year, why not plan some activities for the remaining days of the holiday, which may be just as fun for the children.


Dealing with a Difficult Ex


You can’t reason with unreasonable people and, unfortunately, some parents endure drawn out battles over Christmas arrangements, school choices, family holidays or even the day-to-day parenting issues.


If you have a particularly difficult ex-partner, then there are a few things you can do to aid your conversations.

  • Keep focused on the task in hand
  • Communicate responsibly – keep it short and simple
  • Document events and conversations and preserve texts and emails
  • Always consider the children
  • Be prepared to compromise but also don’t be bullied
  • Use Solicitors when you need to


Getting Legal Advice on Christmas Contact


If you find yourself unable to reach agreement on Christmas plans or have other issues such as being denied contact with your children altogether, then please get in touch with our understanding and experienced Family Law Team.


Our final word of advice is to firm up your Christmas contact plans before children make a start on their advent calendars on the 1st December.


To speak to someone for advice, please call 01256 844888, email enquiries@lambbrooks.com or speak to our online chat assistant.


Other Articles You May Be Interested in Reading:

Keeping Christmas Magical for the Children

Coping With Christmas After Separation

Christmas Contact Arrangements: What do the Courts Favour?

Introducing a New Partner to Your Children


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.