All I Want For Christmas Is…
A Positive Co-Parenting Arrangement
Angharad Bentley, family law partner at Farleys, explains how you can avoid the many and varied co-parenting challenges that present themselves at Christmas
As the winter nights draw in, and the shops start to fill up with Christmas decorations, thoughts turn to family arrangements for the big day. For some this is as simple as how to avoid Christmas lunch at the in-laws, but for parents who have separated, the festive period often brings the added complication of how to celebrate and ensure that it is a joyous and happy time for their children as well as themselves.
Many of these challenges can be avoided however, by following some useful tips on how to plan for the Christmas period.
PLAN AND COMMUNICATE
Whilst this may sound obvious, the sooner you start a discussion about Christmas plans, the more time you have to finalise plans that suit everyone. This is far better than leaving things until the last minute, or leaving one person disappointed or upset. Or even worse, that a child is disappointed not to be able to spend time with a parent over Christmas.
You should also think about whether your regular contact schedule needs to be modified in the run up to Christmas, as well as any ‘emergency plans’, which would come into place if, for example, bad weather makes travelling difficult or impossible.
Once you have reached an agreement, put it in writing so that there is no ambiguity regarding arrangements for travel and handover times.
Every family is different and it’s important to remember that arrangements should be in the child’s best interests. They will want to and will benefit from, celebrating Christmas with both parents and their wider family members. So, remember that it does not need to be on the day itself, and that Christmas is a holiday. Be willing to compromise where possible, for the sake of the child, and explore the option of alternating arrangements the following year.
Maintaining flexibility is important for a positive co-parenting relationship and helps to limit disagreement. Christmas can be such an emotive time for separated families, but it does not have to be. Be kind, considerate and realistic. Put aside differences for one day and allow your child to experience the magic of Christmas with each parent.
DON’T BE AFRAID TO SEEK PROFESSIONAL ADVICE
As lawyers, we become extraordinarily busy at this time of the year, helping parents looking to resolve disputes regarding one or the other’s plans for the holidays. While this may come in the form of applications to the Court, more often than not, these disputes can be resolved without the need for court proceedings. It is important however to take advice early, and not leave it too close to Christmas.
If you’re still struggling to agree arrangements for Christmas, or any other time of year and are looking for support or advice, whether in discussions with your co-parent, through mediation, or in relation to an application to the Family Court, our experts at Farleys are on hand to help.
Please give us a call or visit our website for more information on: 01254 368040