Child arrangements at Christmas

Don’t be left out in the cold at Christmas with arrangements for your children – read our step by step guide for separated parents.

Christmas is traditionally a family time with children being the main focus.

This can bring challenges for separated or divorced parents who are trying to agree the best arrangements for their children.

This is particularly the case if this December will be your first Christmas apart. Often both parents will want their children to be with them on Christmas day. In the past you may have found it a struggle to fit all your family visits into the festive period prior to separation and now you are suddenly faced with finding the time to separate those arrangements and more importantly facing time away from your children.

With Christmas being all about pleasing your children your main focus is likely to be to ensure that it is as magical as ever for them. The sooner you can resolve the time that the children are going to spend with each parent the sooner each parent can start planning to enjoy the festive period with wrapping presents, putting up the Christmas Tree, magical movies and hot chocolate.

We have devised some tips to try to assist parents when trying to organise Christmas arrangements and surviving Christmas.

  • Keep calm and try to look at the situation from the children’s point of view.
  • Plan in advance and communicate with the other parent. It isn’t advisable to ask your child to make the decision as this places far too much pressure on them to choose between parents as they are often worried about upsetting their parents. They are also likely to be worried where Santa will deliver their presents!
  • Try not leave making the arrangements and discussions with the other parent to the last minute, start considering Christmas in advance. 
  • Most children write a wish list. Consider showing the other parent the list and if there is a main ‘big’ present, share the cost and give the present to your child as a ‘joint’ present from both parents. As for other gifts, agree with the other parent as to which gifts you are both going to buy. This will avoid any disappointment for the children or either parent feeling like it is a competition.
  • Consider alternating Christmas Day year on year. Many parents have arrangements whereby one year the children spend Christmas Eve to Christmas Day with one parent and then Christmas Day to Boxing Day with the other parent and then alternate the arrangements  each year thereafter.
  • Ensure the children get to see extended family members
  • Try not to argue with the other parent; put your children’s needs and emotions first before yours.  They do not want to hear arguments or fighting so make sure handovers are civil.
  • When you have agreed the arrangements, tell your children what they are so that they can be prepared in advance and be positive about it.

Hopefully our tips will give you a head start in planning a stress free Christmas.

If however you are not able to reach an agreement or you feel that you would benefit from legal advice then please do not hesitate to contact us on 0191 691 3418.

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