Christmas time contact for children
Vikki Porthouse gives her top tips for child arrangements for separating or divorcing parents over Christmas.
Everyone’s minds are turning to the festive period. Plans are being laid, let the fun commence! If you are a separating or divorcing parent and you haven’t already got arrangements in place for the children for the festive period, here are my top tips:
My number one tip is to plan in advance. It’s never too early to begin discussing with each other what the arrangements will be for your children. It’s too important to leave to the last minute and if you aren’t able to reach an agreement it gives you the opportunity to try mediation, and if absolutely necessary to make an application for the court to consider.
It’s vital you communicate with each other PROPERLY! This means setting out your position, but also listening to the other person’s point of view. It goes without saying that there are traditions to maintain and extended family to take into account but the priorities have to be spending some time with each parent at this special time of year.
Don’t ask the child or children to make the decision. This puts way too much pressure on them and puts them in an impossible situation.
Be willing to compromise and to be flexible. Some children spend some time on Christmas Day with both parents or they spend alternate Christmas days with each parent. It’s unreasonable to expect to spend every Christmas Eve and every Christmas Day with the children to the exclusion of the other parent.
Once you have an agreement let the child or children know what the plans are to avoid them worrying about what will be happening.
While discussing these issues also consider discussing with each other the gifts you would like to give – try and avoid duplicates!
If you find it impossible to reach an agreement it is open to you to make an application under the Children Act 1989 for a Child Arrangements Order dealing with a Specific Issue. Above all remember the approach from the court will be to put the child’s best interests first.
As with many issues concerning children of separated or divorced parents sometimes there needs to be a bit of extra creativity to achieve results. Keep in mind the ultimate aim - magical memories going in to the memory bank of festive fun with Mum and Dad!
For more advice on contact or other family law issues, contact Vikki Porthouse at Burnetts on 01900 510 366 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Burnetts is hosting a series of family problems surgeries across Cumbria in 2017. To find your nearest event and to book a free 30-minute appointment, visit our events page.
About the author
Vikki is a Legal Executive in the family team.