All I want for Christmas….

Autumn into Winter is a pretty tough run for separated parents. Navigating the start/back to school logistics and the important first day photographs, October Half Term, Halloween, Fireworks and then the Big ‘C’.

Christmas arrangements have always been an emotive subject. This can be heightened if the separation is in close proximity to this time of year, when feelings are raw and tensions are high.

Understandably, both parents want to spend time with their child/children on those special days. To see the magic of Christmas Eve and Christmas morning and share those memories with their wider family members.

There’s no hard and fast rule as to how the Christmas period should be split. How those arrangements are made and whether they work well will very much depend on how those plans come to be in place as well as the more logistical issues of geography, travel, timings.

The last thing any parent wants is a court making that decision for them, indeed if you still haven’t managed to agree the arrangements for the Christmas period, the chances of having a court do that for you now are slim to none. The pressures on the family Court are worse than ever and you’d be well advised, unless your circumstances are such that a court process is the necessary and safest option for you, to keep well away.

So, what do you do?

Plan ahead

Try and sit down in good time to discuss proposals and hopefully reach a plan or if there are still difficulties, think about mediation.

Put the children first

Christmas is after all for children. They will fair far better being spoken to about the arrangements and reassured. They may feel sad about not seeing the other parent, anxious about where they will be. Talk to them, answer their questions. New traditions can also help children process the new arrangements for Christmas and lift the worry.

Be prepared to compromise

There’s no one size fits all. What works for one family won’t work for another. Have several options in mind for discussion. The more fixated you are on your own single proposal, the less likely it is that a middle ground will be found. Often looking at the longer term pattern of arrangements for holiday periods such as Christmas can be helpful in taking the sting out of a compromise. Think in terms of what happens this year will alternated the following year – would you be happy with that?

Consider ways of resolving the dispute

If you can’t agree, then don’t run straight to the court door, there are many options that offer cost-effective and much quicker ways of resolving such issues. One of those options is Mediation, where a neutral third party will work with you jointly to help you reach and agree a plan. Mediations can be organised quickly and even if there are longer term arrangements that need to be agreed, could give you the space to discuss this as a single issue and agree next steps for the broader issues in the New Year. The key is to get the conversation started.

If you find yourself in difficulties with your former partner/spouse about Christmas or longer term child arrangements do get in touch. We are here to help.

You can find out more about our mediation service by contacting Emma Post at

By Emma


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