Making arrangements for children this Christmas

The question of where, and with whom, children will spend Christmas can be a difficult one for any separated parents. The pandemic has made this year even more challenging as we all awaited updates from the Government on guidelines over the festive period.

The good news from yesterday’s announcement is that children under the age of 18 remain fully able to move between parents’ homes and are able to join both ‘family Christmas bubbles’. Helen Handley offers more guidance below on how to approach child arrangements this Christmas.

Keep your children at the heart of your decision making
Christmas is often seen as precious family time and it can be easy for the desires of each parent to cloud their judgement about what would be in the best interests of the children on the day. Try to focus on what is important for your children and their needs.

Talk openly about what both parents would like to see happen over the Christmas break and work from there to formulate your plans. It’s helpful if the conversations can start with both parents open to a degree of compromise.

Don’t leave decision making to the last minute
Talking early allows more time for negotiation. With the Government announcing guidelines on the festive period, now is a good time to confirm plans.

Don’t change plans unnecessarily
Once you have agreed child arrangements for Christmas, try not to change them unless absolutely necessary to avoid last minute disputes and disruption for yourselves and your children.

Think about Grandparents and wider family members
Whilst Christmas will be very different for everyone this year, there is still an opportunity for 3 families to get together in a bubble which could include grandparents, aunts and uncles etc. Try to be pragmatic about where and when the families will be together and include that in your decision making.

Be realistic
You may both want to spend part of Christmas Day with the children but if you don’t live nearby how practical is it to spend a long time travelling between homes or to expect young children to travel late at night.

There are no set rules for how you should approach child arrangements over Christmas but we thought it may be helpful to share with you how we have seen clients approach this in the past. These include;
• Splitting Christmas Day, whichever way it is practicable to do so
• Children with one parent on Christmas Day and the other parent on Boxing Day
• Children spending Christmas with one parent and New Year with the other parent
• Alternating Christmas, i.e. with one parent this year and the other parent next year

If you need advice on how to structure your child arrangements for Christmas, please email Helen Handley or call her on 01803 403403.

The content of this article is correct as at the date of posting and is for information purposes only. Whilst we try and ensure it is accurate we do not warrant or guarantee that this is the case, nor do we accept any responsibility in the event that it is relied on. The information is not intended to be a substitute for legal advice which you are recommended to obtain.

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