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Separated Parents & Christmas Child Arrangements

Handling Christmas arrangements for separated parents can be trickier than wrapping a present with one hand while juggling ornaments with the other.

Figuring out how to split the Christmas joy between both parents requires a delicate dance, and the usual holiday plans might be as outdated as that fruitcake no one ever eats. It’s like trying to navigate a maze without a GPS, and there’s no “Santa’s Guide to Separated Parenting” to light the way.

The question of how the children will shuttle between parents is a real head-scratcher. If you have a Child Arrangements Order in place then it`s more straight forward – quite simply, follow it; a well drafted Child Arrangements Order will usually include the Christmas arrangements for the children. If there isn`t a Child Arrangements Order in place, and you haven`t any pre agreed arrangements, then there’s no manual for this but well spirited communication is key.

Before you start drafting your Christmas Co-Parenting Constitution, remember that family law insists the kiddos’ well-being takes the Christmas pudding. No parent gets the monopoly on holiday cheer, which means you and your ex are free to craft a plan that orbits around the kids and their incessant requests for the latest gadgets.

So, what are the options, here are some options and top tips from our expert Family Law Solicitors : (in no particular order) :

Option 1: Split Christmas in Half

It’s like a Christmas relay race. Kids spend Christmas Eve and Christmas morning with one parent, then pass the yuletide torch to the other for the rest of Christmas Day and Boxing Day. It’s a holiday handoff that would make Santa proud. You can even extend the Christmas break and define it as you both choose.

Option 2: Have Two Christmases

Double the presents, double the fun. Kids get to unwrap gifts twice—once on actual Christmas Day with one parent and again on a specially designated day before or after the 25th. It’s like Christmas, the sequel. Granted, you`ve still got to alternate year on year so one parent doesn`t get the fake Christmas – otherwise known as Boxing Day !

Option 3: Alternate years

This suits some parents however we would always caution that children should spend quality time with both parents at some point (if this is possible) however you define the Christmas period. This may not be geographically possible for all separated couples and if that`s the case, clearly video calls are necessary for the absent parent that year.

Option 4 : Spend Christmas altogether (unlikely we know but not unheard of)

Now, the daring feat of spending Christmas Day together with your ex. It’s like attempting to untangle Christmas lights without swearing – challenging but not impossible. For those separated couples who remain buddies, it’s a chance to show the kids that Santa’s magic extends to your co-parenting skills. Very unlikely but not unheard of – often Solicitors don`t get to hear of such arrangements, and for good reason – the parents get on! Bravo.

Handling New Partners

Introducing new partners into the Christmas mix is like adding a spicy kick to your holiday eggnog. It stirs up emotions faster than a snow globe in a toddler’s hands. Priority numero uno: Collaborate on when and how to introduce the new characters in this holiday drama, ensuring it doesn’t turn into a Netflix-worthy series.

Top tip – it`s best to only introduce new partners to your children if they are established and likely to be long term relationships. Do not unnecessarily cause your children to be concerned or worried about your new relationship, and, if it doesn`t extend beyond one Christmas, then only your heart is broken and Christmas will not be ruined for all.

Joint Gift-Giving

Joint gift-giving is the co-parenting version of a buddy cop movie. Presents labelled “from Mum and Dad” maintain the illusion of parental unity, preventing an epic battle of who can outgift the other. Set a budget, strategize the gifts, and avoid the temptation to sneak in a bonus “just from me” present, or at the very least, just agree the big presents in good time.

Put the Plan in Writing

If there isn`t a Child Arrangements Order or a written plan in place, then get that Christmas Co-Parenting Constitution on paper. Send it via text or email – the carrier pigeons are on vacation. This way, if any misunderstandings rear their Grinchy heads, you’ve got a written Santa-certified agreement.

Stick to the Plan

Sticking to the plan is crucial, like avoiding mistletoe if you’re prone to awkward encounters. It ensures everyone, especially the kids, knows what to expect, promoting ongoing cooperation for future festive seasons.

If you have a Child Arrangements Order, don`t breach it (or seek legal advice before doing so) otherwise enforcement proceedings may follow and you`ll be back in the Family Court once again.

Strained Relations

In cases where communication may be challenging, this is tough. In our experience, speaking with one another respectfully, calmly and constructively, can sometimes be better than messages as messages can, and frequently are, misconstrued. This isn`t always the case, there are apps such as the Family Wizzard App which CAFCASS recommend when communication has entirely broken down. Keeping messages short, polite, respectful and to the point tend to be useful building blocks for regaining positive dialogue.

Seeking Professional Help

If negotiations resemble a yuletide stalemate, enlist the help of a specialist family lawyer or mediator. They’re like Santa’s little helpers but for co-parenting disagreements. And if all else fails, there’s always the Family Court – the last resort, akin to putting coal in the stocking of your co-parenting relationship.

Dealing with Christmas post-separation is a festive rollercoaster. Successfully navigating this jolly journey with your ex is an achievement worth celebrating. Succeed and it`s the best gift you can both give your child / children.

Even if your co-parenting harmony isn’t flawless, a sprinkle of ongoing communication and a dash of cooperative adjustment can make the holiday season a tad merrier. And if all else fails, reach out to our expert family law team – the elves of legal counsel for festive parenting disputes.

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