Tips for sorting out arrangements for children over Christmas

It’s the “most wonderful time of the year” and everyone should be looking forward to the Christmas holidays. However, this is not always easy if, as separated parents, you know you still have to sort out arrangements for your children. Making these arrangements can be emotional and can be made even harder if you are unable to communicate easily with your ex.

Here are my tips to ensure working out who will spend time with the children is as easy as possible, hopefully putting some of the joy back into Christmas.

  • Start the discussion as far in advance as possible. Leaving it until the last minute might seem like the easiest option, but it can cause chaos as Christmas Day approaches. Instead, try and prepare a list of key issues well in advance and find a good time for both of you (and away from the children) to talk them through. By raising this early, if you do need some professional support (for example, mediation) to come to an agreement, there is time to get it. With less than four weeks left to Christmas, if you still need to have this conversation, make it a priority.

  • Take it one step at a time. Don’t worry about arranging every single Christmas until your children all reach 18. Focus on what can be agreed as easily as possible and then work from there. Once you have an agreement, write it down or put it in an email so that everyone is clear about what has been agreed.

  • Don’t forget logistics. Sorting out who is going to spend Christmas Day with the children is the big decision but don’t forget the details. Include how your child will get to your ex’s home and the timings. This will allow you to make a plan you can both stick to. Don’t forget to agree “emergency plans” too, for example if bad weather makes travelling difficult or impossible.

  • Communicate with your child. If your child is old enough, it will be important to understand how they want to spend their Christmas and involve them in the decision making. They may have concerns or wishes that you are unaware. A Christmas party with school friends that is hardly on your radar might be vitally important to them. Letting them know where they will be over the holidays will mean they aren’t left feeling confused by the arrangements.

  • Focus on the needs of your child. The potential of spending Christmas without your child is very difficult and understandably emotional. But placing your child, and their needs, at the forefront of all of your decisions will ensure you are on the right path.

Need more help? The family team at Mills & Reeve have a wealth of experience in helping families make arrangements for their children. Contact them easily using our dedicated hotline.

This blog is part of a series of blogs written by our specialist children lawyers for Resolution’s Good Divorce Week 2018. Look out for blogs this week here and on www.divorce.co.uk dealing with online support for separating parents, Resolution’s Parenting Charter and tips for defusing arguments.

Rose-Marie Drury