For the majority of parents with children, Christmas is a magical time of year, filled with fun, laughter and joy. But when parents have separated or divorced, arranging to spend time with their children during times of special celebration can be stressful and upsetting, especially when the other parent is proving difficult or unreasonable.
Here are some things to consider when making plans over the festive period.
Know your rights
There is no legal provision for Christmas contact arrangements, with separated or divorced parents being advised to come to an agreement between themselves. Due to workload and time pressures, the Court will usually not intervene unless in the most serious of cases.
Agree plans early
The run-up to Christmas is often a stressful time for most people, without the added pressure of trying to agree on arrangements for contact with children. So where possible, try to agree on arrangements between yourselves well in advance. If there is a way for both parents to spend time with the children, this may be the preferable option, or if one parent had the child(ren) last year, perhaps it can be agreed to take turns.
Set ground rules
One of the leading causes of aggravation between separated parents is a disruption to a child/children’s normal routine – such as late nights, access to technology or devices or eating excessively or unhealthily. To try and prevent arguments, it is helpful for both parents to agree on a set of ground rules that both parents are to follow when they have the children with them.
If you are planning to take a holiday abroad over the festive season and want to take your child(ren), remember it is essential to seek the other parent’s permission before the trip.
Put the children first
Although you will want to see your children at Christmas, remember that their interests should always remain your number one priority. If the children are old enough, perhaps you should consider involving them in making plans, asking them what they want to do. In the main, children will want to see both parents, so try to find a way to make this happen.
Where you find it difficult to communicate with your ex-partner, it can help to involve a solicitor to represent your interests. The family department at O’Donnell Solicitors has great experience and can offer help and advice specific to your circumstances.
Anthony Jones is a Director, Head of Family and a Resolution Accredited Specialist. For more information, please get in touch with him on 0161 641 4555 or email email@example.com