Christmas planning for separated families

The festive season will soon be fast upon us with Christmas being just a couple of months away!

Whilst many will only have to think of food and presents, many separated families with children have a much greater task to consider. There are no hard and fast rules as to with whom the children should spend time at Christmas, whether with their mum or with their dad, and in the first instance it is always best to try to agree matters. As we have outlined in previous articles, planning as far ahead as possible how the arrangements will work for your family is a really sensible starting point. It could mean spending some of the holiday period with one side of the family and the remainder with the other family. Sometimes alternating year on year works best. 

If it not possible to reach an agreement or if you fear that one is unlikely when looking to plan, it is vital to make an application early. A Court will not usually list an application for six weeks from the date that it is issued and sometimes the Court will want to set a separate date for parties to agree which arrangement should take place. 

The Court will always consider the children’s needs and welfare as paramount rather than each parent’s individual wishes. The Court will encourage parties to agree wherever possible and unless there are exceptional circumstances or if it is not appropriate, it will expect the parties to mediate and try to find a compromise rather than try to have a date in Court when neither party might be happy with the outcome. 

What is most important is to plan in advance. With all of the excitement of Christmas this may not be the first thing on your mind, but it might be very sensible to spare a thought for how the arrangements will work for Christmas to help reduce the stress of making last minute arrangements for the holiday period. 

Ed Bidder works in our family law team. The team has a wealth of experience and offers advice on all children issues including offering Legal Aid. Please call 01392 210700 or email for more information.