Full of the joys of Christmas contact

Category: Family

Was the holiday spirit missing due to a dispute with your former partner over child Christmas contact?

As the DWP announces a new initiative this month to help separated families at risk of parental conflict, Gemma Stevens looks at how making plans early can help reduce the risk of conflict ruining the holiday periods.

Christmas may have passed for another year but it is undoubtedly a stressful time for many people, for many different reasons. It can however be particularly difficult for separated families who must try to work with their former partner to agree arrangements for their children during holiday periods.  This is a problem for many throughout the year whether it be trying to make arrangements to share school holidays, or agreeing plans to take children abroad but most parents encounter particular difficulties at Christmas – a magical time which most parents cannot imagine spending apart from their children.

Many parents dread the thought of their children spending Christmas Day with the other parent. It is often hard to see the situation from the other parent’s point of view and appreciate how they might feel to spend the special day apart from their children.

Arranging Christmas contact can often lead to conflict and there are benefits to turning your mind to plans at an early stage in the year to resolve any potential dispute during the festive period. Having a well thought out plan with the other parent can relieve tension between you and ensure the children can enjoy the whole festive period without experiencing conflict.

The benefits of early planning are not limited to Christmas contact – school Easter and Summer holidays can be problematic to agree, particularly if one party seeks to take the children abroad.  This can be worrying for the parent left behind and dialogue between parents to reach agreement at an early stage can reduce tension.  Managing the expectations of the other parent and getting an agreement that can work year on year will help both parties feel more at ease.

It is to be hoped that through discussion and compromise agreements can be reached, and this can take place directly between parents either alone, or perhaps with the help of a family member or friend who might record the agreement for you. Parents can attempt Mediation to help resolve disputes; this is a cost-effective way of resolving practical arrangements with the help of an independent professional who will facilitate a meeting between parents to maximise the chances of an agreement being reached.

If parents cannot agree arrangements then one might need to ask the Family Court to decide, and an application to the Court will bring about an Order which will determine the issues.  The children’s wishes and feelings may be taken into consideration and both parents would have to attend Court and work with CAFCASS throughout the process.

Early legal advice in any dispute surrounding arrangements for children is vital.  Emotions can easily lead parents to make the wrong decisions, and conflict can arise quickly so getting legal advice about the law, how it applies to your dispute and the options open to you is key.

Legal advice does not mean that you will have to go to court. Nash & Co Solicitors have a dedicated team of experts in this area who are all members of Resolution, a community of family professionals who aim to resolve disputes in a non-confrontational manner. The team are accredited specialists in their areas of work and can help with negotiations with the other parent and assist in reaching agreement on your behalf. If it is necessary to apply to the Court, the team can guide you through the process.

Nash and Co can offer flexible funding arrangements to fit your circumstances.

Call the Family team on 01752 827030.