Before the excitement and festivities of the Christmas period begins, many separated parents will be considering the practicalities of child arrangements over the holiday season. As expected, it is best to agree these well in advance especially because Christmas is a particularly busy period for everyone. However, with a number of factors to consider, parents can find it challenging to finalise arrangements.
In order to make the process easier, Stephanie Minte encourage parents to consider the following:
With so many family members to see and events to attend over the Christmas period, it is not surprising that agreeing child arrangements can become stressful.
Some parents have found that alternating Christmas Day each year works well. For example, one parent may spend time with the children from the morning of Christmas Eve until the morning of Christmas Day and the other parent may spend time with the children from the morning of Christmas Day until the evening of Boxing Day. It is important to clearly specify timings and where handover will take place.
Other parents prefer to divide the school holiday in half with one parent spending the first week of Christmas with the children and the other parent spending the second week with the children. This means the children will spend time with one parent over Christmas and one parent over New Year. Some parents prefer this option because it involves less travelling over the Christmas period. The pattern can then alternate each year.
By making clear arrangements well in advance, this avoids unnecessary stress and gives both the children and parents stability.
The best starting point when trying to reach agreement is to begin a discussion with the other parent. Nevertheless it is important to appreciate that this cannot always happen for a number of reasons and therefore some parents have found attending mediation or agreeing arrangements through solicitors has been helpful to reach agreement.
In the event that one parent is not engaging with discussions or willing to compromise, you may consider that you need further advice on what options are available from the court. A Child Arrangements Order is a binding legal document which specifies who the children will live with and who they will spend time with, including holidays such as Christmas. You may find it helpful to explore this option with a solicitor should the above alternatives be unsuccessful.