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Childcare at Christmas - keeping in contact

View profile for Anna Robinson
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Christmas is just around the corner, and for many people it brings the opportunity to spend time with loved ones and make memories.  But for those who have separated from their partners and are struggling to agree arrangements to spend time with their children, it can be the most stressful time of the year.

With Christmas adverts are already creeping onto the TV, and schools gearing up for their festive celebrations, now is the time for separated families to look ahead to the holiday season and try and put in place something that is workable for everyone.

Here are my top tips that you need to think about:

  • First and foremost, the most important thing to remember is that arrangements should always be in the children’s best interests.
  • Approach the subject of Christmas contact as early as possible. Having something arranged well in advance means that everyone knows where they stand, and can make plans for the time that they are going to be caring for the children.
  • Wherever possible (and appropriate) ask the children for their views.  However, you need to make it clear that there may have to be some compromise from everyone (including the parents).
  • Is sharing Christmas Day going to be workable?  Much will depend on the age of the children, the distance between their parents geographically and the relationship that they have with both maternal and paternal families.
  • You could consider switching arrangements on a yearly rotation, so that the parent who has the children on Christmas Day this year, will have them on Boxing Day next year, and vice versa
  • Do you need to change any routine contact in the run up to Christmas to fit in festive parties or visits to relatives that the children may not see regularly?  
  • Avoid misunderstandings – to eliminate doubt, it might be worth exchanging texts or e-mails to confirm what has been agreed.
  • Make sure you cover the ‘what ifs’. For example, what if bad weather makes travel difficult or impossible? You and the other parent should always know how to communicate emergency situations to the other, or a close relative if that is more appropriate.
  • Be respectful of each other and your respective traditions and plans. In years to come, your children will look back and remember both positive and negative things and it is so important that they should not be caught up in heated discussions or arguments between their parents.
  • Communication is key – it’s not a competition! Children learn from the adults that they spend time with; if you behave appropriately and respectfully when communicating with the other parent in front of the children, they will quickly recognise that they do not have to choose between you.

If you cannot reach an agreement with your ex-partner regarding contact over the festive period, then contact us at Talbots Law for specialist advice as soon as possible. The Courts are inundated with cases at this time of year and the longer you leave it to resolve formally, if that’s what is needed, the higher the risk that matters will not be considered by the Court before the festive season is upon us.

The sooner that the arrangements are agreed between you, the sooner you will be able to relax and enjoy your plans and activities in the build-up to Christmas.

For more information or assistance with contact arrangements, or any other family related issues, please contact Anna Robinson, or a member of the Family Law team, or call us on 0800 118 1500.
 

 

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