With Christmas fast approaching families are starting to make arrangements to celebrate the festive period together. However, this can be particularly stressful and upsetting for separated parents and their children.
Contact arrangements can often prove to be a bone of contention throughout the festive period, even if a court order is in place which often will specify the arrangements for the Christmas and New Year period
Our family solicitors here at Pinney Talfourd have rounded up several “Do’s and Don’ts” to make sure that Christmas is a stress-free time for parents and children alike.
1. Do have fun – Christmas is an excitable time for children whilst they have a break from school, have some fun and enjoy time with their family. Always remember this.
2. Do plan ahead – Agree on the Christmas contact arrangements well in advance of the holiday. It usually works well to have the same arrangement alternated between the parents each year, for example, Christmas Day in even years will be with mum and odd years with dad.
It also works well to split Christmas Day, Christmas Eve and Boxing Day between both parents so that both parents get to spend some time with the children over the key days of the holiday.
3. Do prepare for presents – Always discuss with the other parent what you are intending to buy for the children both in terms of your budget and also to ensure that you do not both purchase the same presents for the children. By having these discussions in advance, you can try and ensure that you are both aware of the other’s plans and this can hopefully ease any tensions on the big day.
4. Do be flexible – Around Christmas time there are usually numerous events taking place, including family gatherings, pantomimes, Christmas events and even visiting Santa that each parent would like to take their children to. Be flexible with one and other about the arrangements to ensure that the children get to partake in all of the festivities and that both parents get to enjoy these events with them in the lead up to the big day.
5. Do get into the Christmas spirit – Your children would probably like to send their other parent a Christmas card and Christmas gift. You should encourage this and if necessary, take them to the shop to pick something out and help them wrap it. Remember, the most important thing about this festive period is making it an enjoyable one for the children. Not encouraging them to celebrate it with the other parent might upset them, which is not what the festive period is about.
1. Don’t rack up the miles – Avoid making a child travel too far on Christmas Day. This is a fun and exciting time for the children and the last thing they will want to do is spend the majority of the day sat in a car travelling between parent’s houses. Try and make arrangements for the travelling to take place before or after Christmas Day if possible.
2. Don’t overindulge – Making a child celebrate two lots of Christmas Days in one day, so that neither parent misses out, is not necessarily in a child’s best interest. If you alternate Christmas Days each year, you can ensure that the children get to focus on the occasion and of course still get to celebrate it with the other parent either on Boxing Day or Christmas Eve.
3. Don’t compete with each other – Do not try and out do the other parent with gifts that you buy for the children. Be mindful of what the other parent can realistically afford. Do not intentionally buy expensive or numerous presents just to try and gain favour with your child at the expense of the other parent.
4. Don’t seat the small stuff – In particular over the Christmas period, do not let the children pick up on the stress, worries or disputes. Both parents need to remember that the most important thing are the children and ensuring that they have the best Christmas possible.
If you are separated and looking for more advice with regards to your legal rights as a parent, Pinney Talfourd Solicitors are here to help. We have an experienced and dedicated team of specialist family lawyers based in our offices in Essex and London.
The above is meant to be only advice and is correct as of the time of posting. This article was written by Stephanie Leszman, Solicitor in the Family 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 September 2022.