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How can we agree on who the children spend Christmas with?

Christmas, school holidays and special occasions can be particularly difficult for separated parents. Whether you are thinking of separating, are already separated, divorced or remarried, it can often be difficult to agree arrangements in relation to the children spending time with both sides of their family.

The most important consideration is the best interests of the children – to ensure that they are able to enjoy a meaningful relationship with both parents so far as this is possible, of course being aware of any risk or safety issues.

So what advice can we provide to help things run smoothly during the festive period?

The key is to communicate with the other parent – often communication can be very difficult or break down completely when a relationship comes to an end. However, good communication can be the key to resolving issues amicably. If it is difficult to speak face-to-face or over the telephone, then try sending an email or a text message. Listen to each other, be courteous and try to be flexible in relation to the arrangements.

It is extremely important that the children do not become involved in these discussions to avoid any upset. Remember that the children may be used to spending special occasions with both parents so agreeing arrangements in advance and providing reassurance to the children will ensure that this is a smooth transition for them (and for you).

If this is not possible, you may wish to consider mediation which can help facilitate amicable discussions and can be a cost effective way of resolving issues.

For further advice or assistance in relation to children matters or any other family issues, please do not hesitate to contact our specialist team.

Kim Busby, Family Law Executive