Child Arrangements over Christmas


Christmas is nearly upon us and many families have already started preparing. It is an extremely special time of year for children; full of magic and wonder. It can also be a very difficult time for separated or divorced parents who each want to enjoy this special time with their young ones.

​Like any arrangements for children, there are no legal rules which specify how a child’s time should be spent over the Christmas period. The only legal principle which applies to all arrangements for children is that it is generally in their best interests to have a relationship with both parents.

Special times such as Christmas and Birthdays can be problematic – after all, there is only Christmas eve where mince pies are put out for Santa and Rudolf and only one Christmas morning when presents are excitedly torn open.

All parents undoubtedly agree that, to children, Christmas is a wonderful and exciting time. They deserve to have a joyous time free from any tension or distress. However, due to the importance of Christmas to most families, parents can sometimes find themselves in a disagreement about what the arrangements should be.

Here are some tips which might help you get through the festive season:

  • Try to discuss matters and agree as far in advance as you can so that the children know ahead of time where they will be and with whom.
  • If this is the first Christmas that the children have had in separate household, let them know that even though things will be different, they can still be special. Think about making new and different Christmas memories.
  • Try to coordinate gift choices with the other parent.
  • Think about whether or not the children would benefit from parents presenting a united front; any activities that you are both involved in must be a positive experience for them.
  • Allow your children to decide where they will keep their gifts.
  • Recognise that you may have to put your own feelings aside in order to prioritise what is best for the children.

There is no right or wrong answer to how the arrangements work – a good idea is to alternate the arrangements year to year. You can consider the following:

  • Splitting the school Christmas holidays equally and alternating the first and second weeks
  • Alternating Christmas Eve and Christmas Day or Christmas Eve and Boxing Day
  • Alternating Christmas and New Year.

More information

If you are struggling to reach an agreement, then consult us. We can advise you on your options and suggest ideas which may work. It is often useful to have a more objective perspective from a family law specialist. We can refer you to a family mediator who will act as a neutral go between to try and help you reach an agreement quickly and cost effectively. As a last resort we can assist you with applications to the court if all other methods of reaching an agreement have failed.

Please get in touch with our Family Law Team if you would benefit from our expertise.This article was written by Louise Eady, Senior Associate in the Family Law Team at Pinney Talfourd LLP Solicitors. The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice. Specific legal advice should be taken on each individual matter. This article is based on the law as of November 2019.


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