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    Contact at Christmas time

    PLEASE NOTE: Information in this article is correct at the time of publication, please contact DFA Law for current advice on older articles.

    Don’t leave Christmas contact to the last minute!

    Whilst Halloween has not yet been and gone, Christmas preparations have well and truly started for many. In the run up to Christmas, we inevitably see an increase in the number of enquiries about contact arrangements over the festive period.

    Christmas should be a time for families to come together but it can be a challenging time for separated families. It is always difficult to decide which parent the children should spend time with, and when, but it is sensible to try and manage the arrangements for Christmas as early as possible. This then leaves time to try and resolve any disputes that may arise, well in advance.

    When discussing the Christmas arrangements consideration should be given to the following:

    • Can Christmas be shared?

    When parents live close together it is often agreed that Christmas day is split with the children spending time with both parents. This can work for some families but for others it may not be in the best interests of the children, especially if this means a lot of travelling.

    • Alternate years?

    Will it be better for the children to spend alternate years with each parent so that they have the opportunity to enjoy the whole day with both? Arguably, if one parent is going to spend Christmas with the children, it is only fair that this should be alternated the following year.

    • Compromise is key!

    Separated parents must be prepared to compromise. The children should be at the forefront of any plans over the Christmas period and consideration should be given to how they would like to spend the day.

    • Two Christmases?

    If you do not have the children on Christmas day itself this does not prevent you from having a ‘second Christmas’ with them on another day.

    • Know your options.

    If you cannot reach an agreement about the Christmas arrangements directly, think about how else you could try to resolve the matter. This may include mediation.

    • Is a court application necessary?

    If you have exhausted all other options and need to apply to the court, you should apply sooner rather than later. The courts are always busy, especially in December, and applications can take anything from 1-4 months to be heard.

    • Get advice.

    Before making a hasty application to the court if you cannot reach an agreement, it is always sensible to first get expert legal advice.

    Most importantly, you should try to relax and enjoy the time you have with the children over Christmas. After the festive period ends, time can be taken to reflect on what has and what has not worked for the children so that similar issues can be avoided in future years.

    For specialist legal advice relating to children matters, please give DFA Law a call on 01604 609560 or email: and we’ll be happy to help.

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