When it comes to separated parents at Christmas, there are often two stereotypes: the co-parents who compete with extravagant gifts and grand gestures, or the co-parents who bury the hatchet and smile through gritted teeth. The question is, which is right?
For parents who have recently separated or are going through a divorce, deciding whether to spend Christmas together for the kids can be a tricky one, but the answer doesn’t have to be. Here are some options to consider when planning for the festive period:
Your child arrangements
The first consideration at such a sensitive time of year is your current child arrangements.
Shared care is a term often used where no single parent dominates care of the children. Both parents are equally present in the children’s lives and parents share care of the children on days that are agreed between them or ordered by the court.
Over the festive season, this may get confusing if those agreed days fall in such a way that only one parent gets the children over the holidays. Whilst sticking to an already agreed schedule may seem like the best approach, ensuring time is split evenly across both parents over Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day may be best to avoid disputes later on.
Spending Christmas Together
Spending Christmas together might be a preferable choice for the parents, whilst providing stability for their children on the day itself. This can be agreed upon informally depending on where parents are in the separation or divorce proceedings.
If you are in the middle of divorce proceedings as the holiday approaches, you can hold negotiations over assets, or even child arrangements by instructing your family law solicitor. This may avoid animosity around an already busy period by ensuring that Christmas and Boxing Day remain as stress-free as possible.
After divorce, many parents will continue to spend Christmas together to continue with traditions and reinforce the idea of shared care for their children. If being together on the day will cause less stress and harm to your children, this may be the solution for you.
Spending Christmas Apart
If there has been an unfortunate breakdown in your relationship or there is a dispute over child arrangements, parents may choose to spend Christmas apart.
No parent should feel guilty for choosing to spend Christmas away from their ex-partner as it may be a chance to show your children that families come in all shapes and sizes.
Communicating with your children that Christmas will be different this year can often soften the transition and open up a conversation about what is happening and what is to come.
This could be the ideal opportunity to try different communication channels. By video calling the children on Christmas Day, they will feel like both parents are still present even when their arrangement has changed which will reduce stress and provide reassurance at a special time of year.
Making plans in advance will help you prepare for a potentially different and difficult Christmas. This may include putting shared care arrangements in place for your kids, these can be informally agreed, or arranged through mediation.
These arrangements will be unique to your family, but some arrangements may look like the below:
Spending Christmas Day with one parent and Boxing Day with the other;
Spending Christmas morning with one parent and the evening with the other;
Alternating Christmas Day each year;
There is no right answer to whether you should spend Christmas together for the kids, as it depends on each individual family circumstance. Ultimately, whatever arrangement you decide, legal or otherwise, should focus on what would be right for the children.
Get Legal Advice from Beyond Legal
Starting divorce proceedings or organising childcare arrangements involving children can be hard, but you don’t have to do it alone.
At Beyond Legal, we are experts in dealing with family disputes, helping to navigate the challenges with advice and support. Get a free consultation for family law services in Newton Abbot and Tiverton with Beyond Legal today.