The Christmas cards and decorations have long hit the supermarket aisles, the Elf on the Shelf is about to make its annual appearance and everyone is busy preparing for the Christmas holidays.

You will also find that Family Courts and family law solicitors alike are extraordinarily busy at this time of the year. We frequently deal with applications to Court in the final few days before Christmas to try and help a family resolve their difficulties regarding the time children spend with their parents.

Not to worry! Rest assured that an application to the Court is not always necessary.  Any last minute panic can be avoided by following these useful tips when considering arrangements for your children over the Christmas period:

  1. Christmas is for children. Although as adults we have as much fun as the kids, remember that whatever arrangements you make you must think about what is best for your child and not you.

  2. Christmas is not just one day. There is the excitement of Christmas Eve when you leave out Santa’s mince pie, milk and a carrot for Rudolph and on Boxing Day when you eat leftover turkey and play with the mountain of toys delivered by the Big Man. For children at school, Christmas is their whole two week holiday, often more. This means you have plenty of days to arrange for your child to see their other parent, grandparents and respective families.

  3. Be creative. As an adult we wouldn’t mind having two Christmas days meaning double the eating and double the gifts. We have heard parents explain that their child’s favourite thing about was spending Christmas day with her dad then doing Christmas all over again on Boxing Day with her mum – getting two lots of presents and seeing her whole family. Don’t forget that this arrangement could be alternated each year between parents.

  4. Be organised. Make arrangements as soon as possible – ideally by the end of November at the latest. This means if you need assistance from a solicitor or the Courts there is time to resolve any difficulties with much less stress. It will avoid any potential for upset around what should be a happy and fun time for children.

  5. See the bigger picture. As above, perhaps consider alternating arrangements. Someone may always be unhappy, but what you do one year could be alternated the next year and so forth. And of course, there are 24 hours in a day – enough time to share the goodwill with your children and both parents, if you decide to split days rather than alternate arrangements each year.

Whilst Christmas can be an emotive time for separated families, it really doesn’t have to be. Try to be considerate and realistic. Put aside differences for them and allow your children to experience the magic of Christmas with each parent.  Let the festive feeling take over you!

The Family Law team at Farleys Solicitors’ provide expert advice on children matters in addition to providing specialist help for you if you are considering divorce or separation. Call the team today on 0845 287 0939 or send an enquiry by email.