Christmas Contact Arrangements
Whilst Christmas is often seen as a time of great anticipation and joy, at Prince Evans we understand that agreeing contact for children can be difficult for divorced or separated parents.
Typically both parents would like to see their child or children on Christmas Day or just before or after to see their faces as they open their presents and to be part of this special time.
It can be particularly difficult where one parent may wish to be away from their normal home to see relatives for Christmas, either in England or abroad.
Sometimes discussing arrangements for Christmas cannot, with the best will in the world, be done amicably or quickly. As they say, it takes two to tango.
However, with the festive season fast approaching, it’s important that you and your ex-partner start discussions if you haven’t already and try to agree on what’s best for your children early on, especially as it can be such a busy time generally.
What you must always have in the forefront of your mind is ‘What arrangement is best for my child/children?’. This is the case irrespective of your wishes and feelings towards your ex or your natural inclination to want to spend as much time with your child/children as you can.
Think, what would your child want to happen if they could wave a magic wand? It is normally to see both parents as much as possible and not to hear any arguments or raised voices.
You may therefore find you need to compromise to reach an agreement.
With your child’s best interests firmly in mind, try to speak to your ex-partner about arrangements over Christmas. This could mean dividing Christmas Day between both of you-your ex-partner could spend time with your child early on Christmas Day while you see them later on that day and/or on Boxing Day. Alternatively you could agree to alternate Christmas Day and New Year’s Day each year.
If you are unable to reach an agreement with your ex-partner directly, it is always worth considering asking a mediator to be involved as an independent third party to speak with you both and work together to decide together what is best for the children. You can then leave mediation with a document, though not legally binding, which tells you clearly what you both expect the arrangements to be.
You can also speak with our highly experienced family solicitors to discuss the contact arrangements that you wish to put in place. We can contact your ex-partner or their solicitor if they have one, on your behalf. We can help by negotiating about contact or putting you in touch with a mediator. This is because you need to have at least invited your ex-partner to mediation before you can apply to Court except in limited circumstances such as an urgent situation or domestic violence. Mediation can also often be quicker and a more cost effective way of discussing contact. Discussing it amicably means that you maintain a better relationship with your ex-partner for future arrangements.
You may then reach an agreement in mediation or if not, the mediator will sign a form which means that we can apply to the Court for a child arrangements order on your behalf.
Our tips on how best to arrange Christmas contact are as follows:
· Start discussions now to give yourselves some time to try to agree contact amicably. If you realise you need some outside input from mediators or from our team at Prince Evans, you will then have time for this.
· As with anything, you will likely have to compromise to agree contact – Your child will probably ideally like to see both of you over the Christmas period so think about this and then work together with their best interests at heart to try to make this happen. Christmas is more than just the one day.
· If you have tried everything else and need a Judge to make a decision, contact us as soon as possible. We can assist straight away with a view to getting an order before Christmas.
· Do enjoy the time you spend with your child on whatever day it is-your child wants to see you, whenever that is. It doesn’t necessarily need to be on Christmas Day itself. You can never have enough Christmas dinners or activities. Make time together whether it is to go out ice-skating, baking Christmas biscuits or watching a Christmas film together.
Make sure you follow through with the arrangements, whatever they are.
We understand that the festive period can create difficulties with contact and our family solicitors at Prince Evans are here to advise you and assist in arranging contact on your behalf.
Contact us on 020 8280 2710 to discuss this further.
Wishing you and your families a very Merry Christmas!