Christmas and the holiday season can be a difficult time for separated parents and it is not always straightforward to settle the arrangements for children to see the parent that they do not ordinarily live with. Often in these scenarios, it is about finding a solution that works practically for the parents whilst helping to promote the relationship between the children and the parent that they do not ordinarily live with. The expectation is to allow children to spend time with each parent provided that it is safe to do so.
However, in making these arrangements, it is always necessary to focus on the children and what they need and what will help further their best interests.
How can Holiday and Christmas Contact be arranged?
Separated couples might be able to make arrangements between themselves as to where the children should spend time over the holiday period. Older children may also have their own views and wishes about where they want to be over the holiday period. It is important, though, not to involve the children in any disputes that arise.
Where arrangement cannot be reached, we are often consulted with a view to advising on the options and the potential ways in which agreement can be reached.
Mediation (in appropriate circumstances) and negotiation through a solicitor is often a starting point. In doing this, we seek to resolve disputes in a timely and child focussed fashion. Arrangements reached by agreement – as opposed to those imposed by a court – often have the best chance of success. There is often a need for negotiation and compromise by both parties to find a solution that works for the parents and is in the children’s best interests.
As a last resort, we can discuss settlements that are reached via the court process. This, though, can be expensive and emotionally challenging.
It is important to consider now what arrangements you would like to be in place over the holiday period so that that these can be thought through, planned and negotiated.
If I already have a child arrangements order, should it cover Christmas?
If a child arrangements order is already in place, then it is highly likely that contact around the holidays will be part of the order. The starting point is to check always what is written in the order.
If there is a child arrangements order in place that sets out what should happen over the holiday period, you must follow the terms of the order. Those arrangements should only be varied by way of a further application to court or via express written agreement between you and the other party to the child arrangements order.
If you wish to discuss any arrangements about your children during this period or at any point, please feel free to contact us and we will be happy to advise on how we might be able to assist. Our specialist team of family solicitors are contactable on 0208 514 9000.