Child arrangements at Christmas


Christmas should be an occasion filled with quality time for families. However, when discussions for child arrangements between separated parents do not go to plan, this can make the occasion much more stressful.
If you have already tried talking to your ex-partner about who will have the child(ren) for Christmas but have not been able to reach an agreement, there are some options for how you can resolve this.

Firstly, please note that unless there is a court order in place that outlines where the children should spend their time, there is no presumption in favour of one parent, regardless of the arrangements the previous year.
In a perfect situation both co-parents agree to arrangements that suit both parties and the child(ren). However, if this does not happen there are three options you can look into for a short term solution.

1. Try sending them a letter or email rather than talking to them in person if communication has broken down. Try not to get too emotional and outline clearly what it is that you would like to happen. Consider this from the co-parent’s position and focus on suggesting something that is fair to them as well. Encourage them to also write a letter or email too so you know what it is that they want. Please note that any agreements made in letters are not legally binding, but this can be a very helpful way to show the intention of both parents and gives you both the chance to clearly communicate what you want to happen. This can help you reach an agreement without having to involve other people.

2. If communication has completely broken down and you do not think it would be helpful to write them a letter yourself, we can write to them on your behalf. This can help to keep the situation calmer and less emotional. We can help both parents reach an agreement they are happy with.

3. If you would prefer an independent third party to be involved, we would suggest contacting a local mediation centre. Mediation can be an excellent way to discuss everything in a calm, neutral environment with someone who will not take sides. This can be a good way to ‘clear the air’ and move forward.

The key is compromise, both parties are unlikely to get everything they wanted but you can both spend the Christmas period in a way that works for both you and the children. Above all else, make sure you keep the children’s best interests in mind and try not to involve them in the discussions. They likely will not care whether they have a second Christmas that takes place on another day during the festive period. They would appreciate the time spent with their parents, more than caring what specific day it is.

If you would like to discuss anything further or would like our assistance, our friendly team are happy to help.

Alex Poole

Trainee Solicitor

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