For many separated or divorcing families, Christmas can be a difficult time because you are constantly being reminded of spending time not only with your immediate family, but also your wider family.
Organising time with your family can become complicated and this can lead to tensions.
The fundamental advice is that, wherever possible, 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 the opportunity to go on two holidays.
- If you are thinking of arranging a holiday for you and your children, please discuss and try to agree this with your ex-partner or spouse as soon as possible and certainly prior to booking to ensure that there are no conflicts.
- You may want to consider sharing some time over the key days, for example, Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. This may benefit the children, in being able to spend time with both sets of families,
- If you are taking the children away on holiday abroad, do consider the logistics as passports may need to be handed over and children may need to stay with you the night before if you are catching an early flight.
- Consider sharing arrangements with the children via 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 of the plans.
- 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 at the last-minute. Whilst all have to be flexible, do consider the impact 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 they want to know that you appreciate this as well. This is very much 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 or mediation.
- Keep all options open – consider legal advice, mediation, collaborative meetings. Our Family Team look at all options. Paul Wild, is a trained mediator and collaborative lawyer and Eleanor Pearson has recently acted in a number of Children Act Court cases.
If you or your ex-spouse has a new partner who may be spending some or all the time with you and the children during this time, try to introduce them well in advance to both the children and the other partner to alleviate any concerns and be prepared to answer your children’s questions.
In some circumstances you may feel that it is inappropriate to let your ex-partner or spouse leave the jurisdiction with your child. Please seek legal advice if you have any concerns regarding this.
If you struggle over the holiday period in trying to see your children, or are simply looking for a more permanent and enforceable solution, please contact our Family Team on 0118 958 9711 [email protected] or [email protected], who would be more than happy to assist you moving forward.