Christmas can be a very difficult time for separated parents to make agreed arrangements for their children. Families often have Christmas traditions which may have to be changed following the separation of the parents. It is important when considering arrangements for the children that parents remember that often the issues are adult issues rather than the children’s. Children will usually be quite happy to have Christmas day with one parent and another Christmas celebration on Boxing Day with the other. This arrangement can work very well where separated parents are willing to be co-operative with each other and keep in mind the children.
Since the 22nd October 2014 Family courts are required to presume that both parents should continue to play a role in their child’s life after they have separated. The change is aimed at encouraging parents to be more focused on children’s needs following a break-up and the role they each will play in the child’s life. It is assumed that it is better for children to have a relationship with both of their parents following a separation.
Kate Westmacott, Head of Wolferstans’ Family Department is a solicitor and Family Mediator. She says,
“This change in focus will ensure that more children grow up knowing both of their parents following separation which is seen to be better for the children. Whilst the Family Court will still have to consider each case and assess what is right for each child, the starting point will be that where it is possible they should grow up with a relationship with both of their parents. This is particularly important when considering arrangements for the children over the festive period which can be an emotionally difficult time for parents who have recently separated.”
Our top tips for creating a Merry Christmas for everyone:
- Put your children’s needs and feelings first. Discuss arrangements with the other parent and try to share both the pleasure and the responsibilities.
- Let the children know that even though things will be different, Christmas can still be special. Work together with your children to create new Christmas traditions in each home.
- Think long-term and stay flexible. You may want to be with the kids on Christmas Day but there will be other Christmas. It may be fairest to agree to alternate which household the children are at from one year to the next. Remember that whatever the arrangement is this year it may be the opposite next year.
- Don’t compete with your ex over presents for the children. Instead, discuss what presents to buy so that you don’t duplicate. Consider whether it would be helpful to continue the tradition of a joint present from both of you and allow your children to decide where they will keep their gifts.
- Ask for help if you need it and make sure to use the wealth of resources designed to help separated parents manage.
Wolferstans has a large and experienced Family Department and is able to offer advice about making an application to the Family Court to ensure that the best outcome is reached for the children following the separation of their parents. Wolferstans also offers a Mediation Service for separated parents who need some help to discuss arrangements for the children and attempt to reach an agreed way forward.
Kate Westmacott specialises in Children Law and Family Mediation and also has a specialism in acting for grandparents in Family Proceedings. For more information contact Kate on