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Family Law 

Who gets the children at Christmas

By Julie Bligh

Few times of the year can be more difficult for a newly separated family than Christmas.  Although it is a joyous time of year, it can also be stressful.  And this year Covid-19 adds a whole new level of anxiety and uncertainty to Christmas planning.

The best thing for your children – and for you – is to work out where the children will be during the Christmas period.  And to make contingency plans in case you, your children or your former partner are affected by travel restrictions, with a lockdown or even quarantine requirements possible.

If you have Court Orders or a parenting plan it probably doesn’t deal with the impact of Covid-19.  You should both talk about what would happen if things don't go to plan due to Covid?  Then if that happens at short notice and in the middle of family time at Christmas it won’t lead to anger and arguments, with the kids caught in the middle.

If you have recently separated, and don’t have Court Orders or a parenting plan, how do you work this out?  The best way is to think about Christmas through the eyes of your children.  Where do you think they would like to spend Christmas, and with whom?

If you and your former partner will both be in the same town for Christmas Day, then your children will have the chance to celebrate it with each of you, and extended families.

Think about what would work well in your family – and your former partner’s family.  If there is a particular Christmas tradition in your partner’s family such as Christmas lunch, see if you can suggest an arrangement that accommodates that whilst still allowing the children to spend time with you on Christmas morning or evening.

It won’t be perfect, but if you can work out arrangements so that your children celebrate Christmas with each of you, that’s the best Christmas present you can give them.

It can be very difficult to work these things out.  We are experienced in negotiating the challenges you face when trying to reach agreement for your children.  With Christmas only a month away, if you need help in coming to an agreement about the Christmas holidays, please contact us as soon as you can.

You want to know that you will be able to enjoy the festive season with your children, and not be at war with your former partner.

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