For many separated or divorcing families, this Christmas may be the first major holiday where everyone is living separately. Organising time with your family can become complicated and this can lead to tensions between parents and children alike.
The fundamental advice is that, wherever possible, do try to keep all arrangements for seeing the children as ‘child focused’ as possible and consider the following.
- Try to avoid asking or expecting your children to choose. If possible, consider how they would like to spend time with you both together. Some families are still able to spend some time together, whilst others are not – there is no hard and fast rule.
- Try to look at the positives for the children – they may now be living in two separate households but this also means two lots of presents; two lots of family gatherings/parties and so on.
- Consider sharing arrangements with the children via Christmas calendars/planners or (dependent on age) shared on-line calendars so as to be as clear and transparent as possible – most children will want to see that their parents are trying to get on, and this is one way of showing this and for the children to know what the plans are.
- Show the children that you want them to have a relationship with the other parent and try to avoid negative comments of the other.
- Try to plan ahead and stick to arrangements – the children will be the ones most affected if arrangements are changed last-minute. Whilst all have to be flexible, do consider the impacts on the children if plans need to be re-arranged.
- Be considerate – to your children, each other but also to yourselves, you will always be the children’s parents and this is part of the process of co-parenting.
- Longer term – consider a Parenting Plan – these can be looked at on-line or could be prepared via Solicitors
- Keep all options open – consider legal advice, mediation, collaborative meetings.
If you struggle over the Christmas period in trying to see your children, or are simply looking for a more permanent and enforceable solution, please contact our specialist Paul Wild on 0118 958 9711 or [email protected], who would be more than happy to assist you moving forward. Or take a look at our Family Law page for more information.