With Christmas fast approaching, you might be worried about sorting out the arrangements for the festive period, and the time your children will spend with you if you are separated or divorced.
It is important that children can have a meaningful relationship with both parents if it is safe to do so. It is likely going to be best for your children if you are able reach an agreement about Christmas plans together.
If you cannot reach an agreement regarding the time the children will spend with you at Christmas, you could consider attending mediation. Mediation is where an independent, professionally trained mediator assists you and the other parent in exploring ways of reaching an agreement.
It is ideal for both parents to discuss Christmas arrangements early to avoid any last-minute disagreements.
We have included below some useful tips that can be considered when making plans for Christmas arrangements with the other parent:
- Discuss Christmas arrangements as early as possible so that you can make plans for the festive period.
- Be flexible – consider if any of the usual arrangements will need to be varied over the Christmas period.
- Give each other reasonable notice of any plans or issues.
- Try to listen to each other’s opinions and ideas.
- Think about your plans from the perspective of the children.
- Try not to have arguments or heated discussions in front of the children.
Common Child arrangements
Here are some common examples of arrangements carried out:
- Christmas Day morning spent with one parent, and Christmas Day afternoon spent with the other. This can be alternated or repeated each year.
- Christmas Day, Boxing Day with one parent, and New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day with the other parent. This can be alternated or repeated each year.
- Christmas Eve and Christmas Day morning spent with one parent and Christmas Day afternoon and Boxing Day spent with the other.
If you cannot reach an agreement, you can ask the courts to consider the arrangements. Your solicitor can advise you about the best way of doing this.
What can you do if an agreement cannot be reached?
If you have been unable to agree with the other parent or are struggling to compromise, you should consult a family solicitor. They can be able to provide you with further advice and direction when you are negotiating with the other parent. Your solicitor may suggest the following:
- Writing to the other parent setting out your proposals to reach an agreement that is in the best interests of the child.
- Refer you to mediation where you and the other parent would attend joint sessions with an accredited mediator to ascertain whether you can resolve issues concerning the children. Mediation can be quicker, cheaper and less stressful than attending court.
- To obtain a Child Arrangements Order from the court. It is common for a Child Arrangements Order to be used to make provisions for the Christmas period as this is a special time for families; however, the order can also contain general provisions regarding shared contact that applies year-round.
Should you need any more questions or require more information regarding making applications for a Child Arrangements Order, you can contact the Family Law Team at Myerson Solicitors.