Article from The North East Times

Few of us can have failed to notice that the retail industry is already thinking ahead to Christmas, with many shops now selling novelty wrapping paper and cards.  Although it may seem premature, it is important for separated parents to start planning Christmas early too, to consider well in advance the arrangements for Christmas contact with their children.  Christmas has a tendency to expose the stress points in all families and nowhere is this more true than in separated families. All too often arrangements are left until the last minute which becomes another source of contention. Planning is everything.

It is really important to be very specific about dates and times, who will be where, when.  Children will feel more secure if they know what will be happening. It is a good idea to coordinate Christmas presents to avoid duplication and to prevent a sense of one-upmanship or maybe pitch in together to buy a joint present. The key is effective communication, diplomacy and a willingness to be flexible. The best solution is to agree plans direct with the other parent.   Remember that Christmas is an exciting and special time for children and it is important to think about their happiness and wellbeing.

If the arrangements cannot be agreed together, the next step is to consider attending mediation, where a trained mediator will assist you in trying to reach agreement.  Bear in mind that it can take a few weeks from the date of referral to the first session.

As a last resort, an application can be made to the Court and a Judge will make a decision for you.  The Judge will, however, use his discretion.  Some Judges feel children should have an opportunity to see both parents on Christmas Day, whilst others feel this is disruptive and may suggest one parent has contact on Boxing Day instead.  Depending on circumstances, some Judges will opt to split the two week holiday period between the parents.  If you do make a Court application it will take time to be processed by the Court, so once again it is important to plan in advance.

If you feel that you need specialist advice please contact us at Major Family Law.