09 Jan 2024
09 Jan 2024
As yet another festive season has been and gone, some separated families may find themselves reflecting on the fairness or effectiveness of the arrangements for their children. It’s not too early to start contemplating future Christmas plans to ensure smoother and more equitable arrangements for everyone involved.
Engaging in child court proceedings is inherently challenging, and the additional stress of negotiating the schedule for seeing the children can exacerbate an already difficult situation. This becomes particularly daunting when relationships are strained due to the ongoing legal proceedings, making it an almost impossible task for many families.
Currently, there is no legal provision specifically addressing Christmas arrangements. The court seems to endorse the idea that children should enjoy quality time with both parents during the festive period. It is strongly advised that parents make efforts to reach agreements independently, tailoring them to their unique circumstances. If the child of an age to express their views, it is crucial to incorporate their opinions into the decision-making process, prioritising their best interests.
Courts only intervene only as a last resort, stepping in when all other avenues have been exhausted with no agreements made.
There are several options for organising Christmas arrangements in separated families. The first is the prospect of the whole family spending the day together, but this relies on maintaining an amicable relationship between the separated parents. Another possibility is for the child to spend Christmas day with one parent and then Boxing day with the other, essentially experiencing two Christmas days.
A further alternative involves dividing Christmas day itself. One parent might have Christmas Eve and Christmas morning, while the other has Christmas afternoon and Boxing Day. Lastly, there’s the option of alternating each year, with one parent having Christmas Eve and Christmas Day in one year and then switching to New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day the following year. These choices provide flexibility to accommodate the unique circumstances and preferences of each family.
The most effective approach is to initiate discussions well in advance of Christmas, such as today, providing ample time for negotiation. Delaying the conversation can escalate stress levels. Begin by fostering open communication with the other parent, putting forth realistic suggestions that you believe they might agree to. It’s beneficial to consider the arrangements from the child’s perspective, aiming for the least disruptive plan.
Once a plan is formulated, documenting it in writing and sharing it with the other parent is advisable. This not only solidifies the agreement but also allows for the resolution of any subsequent issues in a timely manner before the festive season.