Christmas 2021 will be a time to celebrate Christmas after Covid disruptions last year, but if you’re navigating arrangements to see your children, Farah Naz, a specialist Family Law Solicitor has got some top tips to make sure that everyone can have a happy Christmas this year.
Preparation, Preparation, Preparation
Planning ahead can avoid any last minute disagreements, so sitting down with your ex-partner at a convenient time should allow you both to put forward your proposals for contact over the Christmas period in advance. This will give both you and your children clarity about what’s happening this year. If there are Covid concerns that need to be talked through, this is the best time to discuss them.
This process can be difficult, so writing out want you want before the meeting can help and you must understand that compromises will need to be made. The more flexible you are the more likely you are to reach an agreement.
What’s Best For The Children?
The main focus should be your children and how to make the transition over the Christmas period. As the children will be used opening their presents on Christmas Day with both parents, it is important to think about how they will feel if they don’t get to spend quality time with both parents. Always speak to your children positively about Christmas, and you can refer to two Christmas Trees, two Christmas Dinners and two sets of presents etc.
Once a fixed plan has been agreed, share this with the children straight away so that they know what the plan is. This will give them certainty and stability.
Be Fair And Reasonable In Negotiations
A lot of people agree that one parent will have the children on Christmas Eve until lunchtime on Christmas Day and then the other parent will have the children for the rest of Christmas Day until Boxing Day. This arrangement is usually alternated each year.
Other couples agree that one parent will the children on Christmas Eve whilst the other will have them on Christmas Day and alternative each year.
There are many different personal circumstances that may need considering such as your locations, the age of the children and how amicable you are with your former partner, but it is important to listen to your ex-partner’s proposals and be fair and reasonable when responding to it.
When putting forward your own proposal, will you be happy with it next year, when you alternate? If not, you might want to think again about what is reasonable.
Stick To The Arrangement
Once an agreement has been made, stick to it without making any last minute changes if you can. The children and your ex-partner will be looking forward to seeing each other, so any last minute changes will cause upset, uncertainty and disruption for everyone. It is absolutely vital that there is a fixed and consistent pattern of contact in place.
Seek Advice Early If Needed
Christmas is a busy time of year and Christmas contact is a difficult topic, which you may be avoiding dealing with, but it’s important to not ignore the issue and to address Christmas contact as soon as possible.
If you can’t have discussions with your ex-partner directly, ask someone else to speak to them for you. If this doesn’t work or if you want to advice about what a fair and reasonable proposal is, feel free to contact a Family Solicitor to discuss your proposal with them. They can also step in and help you with your negotiations.
If you have tried to have direct discussions with your former partner about Christmas contact and also used a Family Solicitor to help without success, you can attend Mediation to see that could help you both agree.
Although you can ask the Court for guidance, the Court is currently dealing with a flurry of applications at present and so have urged couples to sort things out themselves, rather than asking the Court to micro-manage them.
Court proceedings should be issued as a last resort and only where all other options have been exhausted.
Christmas time should be full of love, fun and laughter and not arguments, tears and upset, so use this time to plan, plan and plan some more.
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