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Top Tips for Separated Parents at Christmas

The President of the Family Division, Sir Andrew McFarlane, has today made observations about the strain the Family Court is under due to the sheer volume of cases that are submitted. Many of these cases are from separated parents regarding disagreements about the arrangements for their children.

Despite the Court’s requirement to explore mediation before submitting an application, sadly it seems that many separated parents are still struggling to reach an agreement together, without the need for the Court’s involvement.

The President’s comments come at a time of year which can be particularly challenging for separated parents.

If you find yourself feeling anxious about the prospect of making arrangements for your children over the festive period, keep reading to learn about our top tips for a harmonious Christmas.

  1. Plan early – As tempting as it may feel to hide away, you need to start talking and lay down some firm plans about who will be where, when and with whom. Good plans are key to ensuring that everyone, most of all the children, can enjoy a relaxed and happy festive season. The earlier the better for making plans, so that any disagreements can be calmly ironed out.
  2. Communicate – Talk to your ex about what you both think would be best for the children. Focus on the children’s needs and how you can make it an enjoyable time for them. If you find it hard; speak to us, we are happy to help in the plan making process.
  3. Don’t compete – Present buying might seem like the perfect opportunity to score some points…Don’t! Consult with your ex about who is buying what and stick to the agreement. If you can manage, try to build a ‘parenting alliance’ with your ex. You don’t have to be best friends, but your children will be reassured to see you talking and working together for their benefit.
  4. Compromise – Whilst there is only one Christmas day each year; there’s no reason why the children can’t enjoy a special day with each of you during the festive season. If your ex is determined to have Christmas day with the children this year, simply agree that you will have the next. There will be many Christmases to come.
  5. Make ‘new traditions’ – You might have always decorated the tree just so when you were under the same roof, but take a fresh view. New rituals will quickly become a ‘tradition’ from the child’s point of view.
  6. No pressure – Never ask the child to decide where they want to be on Christmas Eve or Christmas day – It’s unfair. Children need to feel some sense of order particularly following a recent separation and such a huge shift in their world. In the long term your children will thank you for taking the burden from them.
  7. Take advice – If you find yourself faced with a very confrontational ex partner, struggling to keep your cool; take some advice. We’re happy to talk you through your options to help you to resolve the difficulties.

If you would like more information on any of the above, please contact a member of our Family Law team.


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Ann Robinson

Partner and Head of Family Law
Family Law
0113 227 9291
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Ann Robinson Blacks Solicitors LLP