Where Will Your Child Spend Christmas this Year?
It's just 2 days until Christmas with preparations well underway. However, many separated parents may only now be thinking about where their children will spend it.
Will it be with mom? Or with dad?
Or are you willing to bury the hatchet and smile for the day?
No matter what option you choose, careful thought will need to go into it and at some point, you may want to legitimise that choice by putting a child arrangement order
Thinking About the Future
Christmas for most families is mainly about tradition. Putting the star on the tree, leaving milk and treats out for Santa, or a carrot for Rudolf may all be part of the magic. But, when a separation happens, it doesn’t mean those traditions have to stop
It gives you an opportunity to start new traditions or to tweak the old ones to match your developing family.
There are a few things you should bear in mind when thinking of child arrangements over Christmas. The situation doesn’t have to become a bitter court battle over 1 day if you can work together within the best interests of your child
- Give older children the option as to which parent they spend the holiday with – it's important that they feel like they are part of the decision and not just the product of one
- Plan ahead but still remain flexible – if things change further down the line it is up to you as adults and parents to be flexible with your decisions
- If they choose the other parent, don’t use this as an excuse to be bitter – this doesn’t mean they love the other parent more than you, your child is just exercising their right to choose
- Don't try and 'relive Christmases past' – beating yourself up about how it used to be won't help you or your children, see it as an opportunity to do what you both want for Christmas
- Treat the other parent fairly – if you refuse to let them drop presents off this Christmas, who's to say they won't do the same to you next year
- Communicate with the other parent about what you're both buying the children – money doesn't buy love, so it's best not to try and outdo each other
- If grandparents were involved in the celebrations before the break up, don't shut them out now – Christmas with the family is just as important to them as it is to your children
It's never too late to make preparations. Arrange a time and a neutral place that suits both you and the other parent, and try to come up with a plan for how Christmas may be spent up until the children can make their own decision. Christmas is a one-time event but it's worth considering how you can make arrangements for this holiday and others such as half terms, bank holidays etc.
Court Should Be The Last Option
If the children are younger and you really can't agree, mediating on the subject and then making the product of that mediation a legally binding document
could save you a lot of hassle. In cases where mediation doesn't solve the short or long term problem, getting the courts involved may be your only option to a peaceful holiday.
It is highly unlikely that the court will give you a contact order
just for Christmas. Any other agreed contact that you do have should be brought into the mix so you can agree long term what the arrangements will be. A contact order will be as detailed as possible specifying times, dates and locations that contact will take place. Going to court should always
be a last resort, and your solicitor will advise and help you to make an arrangement
before it comes to this point.
The children should be the focus in these scenarios but it's easy to lose track of that when going through a break up. Remember, Christmas is just one day, but showing a brave face to your children throughout this time will cement happy memories for them in years to come.