Why Now is the Time to Make Child Arrangements for Christmas

Chris Fairhurst
Author:
Chris Fairhurst
Partner, Family Law and Divorce Solicitor
Date:
07/12/2020

Our Family Law Solicitors would normally recommend that you and your child’s other parent make arrangements for Christmas as soon as possible, so you give yourself enough time to sort through any disagreements you might have.

But this year may have understandably thrown a spanner in the works.

Christmas can be a difficult time for separated parents, but the coronavirus pandemic has left many families even less sure about what childcare arrangements they should and can make this year. This alongside waiting for the Government to announce Christmas restrictions means that making plans ahead of time seems near impossible.

Many of us have welcomed the announcement that three households can form a Christmas bubble from 23rd-27th December. But if you and your family are still in a higher tier, you might be worried about who will care for your child for the New Year or what you’ll do if there are more than three households in your family.

We understand that the added pressure of coronavirus can make these decisions even harder this year, but our Family Law Solicitors recommend that you come to an agreement with your child’s best interests in mind.

If your family really can’t agree for this year, we can help guide you through mediation or to put more formal child arrangements in place for next year. Get in touch with our Family Law Solicitors for initial legal advice.

Call us on 08002605010 or request a callback and we will help you.

What Does the Pandemic mean for Children at Christmas?

Thankfully, Government and Family Court guidance shows that the Covid-19 restrictions should not interfere with usual child arrangements. But we have seen that some parents have stopped child arrangements and used Covid-19 as an excuse, in spite of any family medical issues.

If you’re in a childcare bubble, you can still use this alongside your Christmas bubble but only where there are no reasonable alternatives. This means that if you want to mix with the person in your childcare bubble but don’t need to for the sake of your child, you will have to count the carer as one of the three households in your Christmas bubble.

Luckily, children can go between two Christmas bubbles from 23 to 27 December, if you and your child’s other parent are in different bubbles. This means that you could have your child for Christmas Day morning and your child’s other parent could see them for the evening.

But we know this might be worrying if you have vulnerable family members in your bubble, so you might have to make some difficult and more restrictive decisions this year.

We know how hard this is for you and everyone involved in your child’s life. Especially as some of your other family members might have hardly seen your child for most of the year.

And you may have seen your children less because of travel restrictions or if they have had to isolate because of an outbreak of Covid-19 in their school.

It’s been a difficult year and picking and choosing between family at such a special time may be a real struggle.

Our Advice on Childcare this Christmas

Here’s a few tips on what you can do to ease the decision making process:

Start Planning Now

Ideally, you and your child’s other parent would have made plans well ahead of December, so you all know what is going to happen for those big holiday days. But if not, try to agree something now. It will give you a head start so if you can’t agree then you will have time to work through your issues.

If the worst comes to the worst and you need the help of a mediator or a Family Law Solicitor, it’s best to seek help ahead of time. This means we can get to know your family’s situation to help you deal with your disagreements.

Be Willing to Adapt

As tough as it is, the coronavirus pandemic has meant that we have all had to reduce our usual freedoms. We know this will make things harder, but it’s important to think outside the box. How else can you get family members involved?

If you can’t have your family round to your house, can you plan in some video calls, or go for a walk to the bottom of their garden? We understand that everyone’s situation is different but in such uncertain times it’s important to just keep doing the best you can.

Try to Compromise

Despite restrictions, it’s great news that children can still go between separate parents’ homes. While you both might want to wake up to open presents with your children on Christmas morning, try and appreciate any quality time you have with your children even if it is later in the day.

Remember you should do what is best for your whole family, and most importantly your child.

Listen to your Children

It’s hard when your child says something you don’t want to hear, but it’s important to listen to what they are saying. The last thing your child wants is to feel like they’re stuck in the middle of you and their other parent.

Speak to them about what they want to do this Christmas and encourage your child’s other parent to do the same.

Childcare at Christmas often brings up unwanted conversations. But it’s important to remember that staying level headed will make the whole process easier for everyone.

If you can’t make a decision, you could try mediation and if that doesn’t work, our Family Law Solicitors are happy to help. We are experts at reducing conflict in family issues and we will always work with your child’s best interests in mind.

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