Helen Bishop, Consultant Solicitor

Co-Parenting at Christmas

Boardman, Hawkins & Osborne LLP

Christmas is a very busy period and can be very stressful for all of us, but is particularly stressful for those families who are separated and the children have to share their times between two homes.

So how do you make Christmas work when you are separated or divorced?

The first priority is to plan and agree in advance how the time over Christmas is going to be shared. This is where a parenting plan can become very useful. If possible sit down together and work out a pattern of contact which can be alternated each year so to ensure fairness.

It might be useful to agree in mediation how to deal with Christmas and holidays generally?

It is important to bear in mind that Christmas is not just one day, and the magic of Christmas can be created on subsequent days before or after Christmas.

Handovers over Christmas are particularly important. Make sure they are at sensible times for the children and as least disruptive to the festivities as possible. If one party needs to drive make sure that alcohol isn’t involved.

When choosing presents for the children, it is a good idea where possible to agree budgets, so one parent isn’t seen to be lavishing presents which the other parent may not be able to afford. Children love to make Christmas lists and if possible you should agree who is going to buy what, to avoid duplications which can make the children feel awkward.

When making all of these decisions and agreements it is important to remember to put the interests of the children first and to be as amicable with each other as possible so to make it a happy Christmas for everyone.

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