When you’re divorced or separated, there are certain occasions that potentially present a challenge. Weddings, family birthdays and school holidays are all good examples. But for many families, divorce can make Christmas anything but the most wonderful time of the year.

Everybody’s circumstances are different, and here we’re looking at some of the different options when it comes to your ‘new normal’ at Christmas, and why advanced planning is always a worthwhile exercise. 

Open discussions early 

It might be that discussions around the arrangements for the children came up during negotiations around your divorce or separation. And that’s no bad thing. It’s always a good idea to have early conversations about Christmas arrangements, so that you can address any disagreements or contentions ahead of the celebrations. 

Of course, even in situations where there’s a Child Arrangement Order in place, or an agreement has been reached in principle through solicitors, there’s always a chance that someone will seek to change the goalposts. If this is the case, seeking legal advice as soon as possible is advisable. 

What will Christmas look like?

There are lots of options to consider here, but ultimately it all depends on what’s likely to work for you, and more importantly, the children. 

If you and your ex spouse or partner are on reasonable terms, you may feel that being together whilst the children open their presents on Christmas morning is something that’s worth doing. Alternatively, you may decide that one or other of you is better placed to have the children at Christmas, perhaps because of family connections, work commitments or other life logistics. On the other hand, some feel that the only fair way to manage the Christmas festivities is for the children to have alternate Christmases with each parent. 

Always keep in mind that this is primarily about the children, and it’s crucial that they’re at the centre of any decision you make. 

What factors might affect your arrangements?

There are a number of things to consider when making arrangements for the children at Christmas, as well as for any other special occasions. If there’s a considerable distance between you and your ex spouse or partner, what will the travel arrangements look like? It might not be feasible for the children, or either parent, to travel significant distances for a short period of time, such as a few hours on Christmas morning. 

Siblings and blended families are another consideration. If your child or children live with their half or step siblings, and even grandparents, would it upset them not to be together at Christmas? 

How to avoid tension and confrontation 

Trying to agree the arrangements for the children can be stressful and difficult at the best of times, but Christmas can be a particularly touchy subject. Ultimately, it may be that not everyone gets to have their dream scenario year on year, and that difficult compromises have to be made.

If you’re able to communicate effectively with your ex and come to an agreement, that’s certainly a good position to be in. However, that’s not the case for everyone. If you know that this is likely to be a area of contention, seek advice from an expert family solicitor. That way, they can do the talking for you, reducing the likelihood of heated arguments and exchanges. The team here at Harrogate Family Law are always on hand to help. 

Tackling the subject of the child arrangements at Christmas sooner rather than later will pay dividends, and help you to know where you stand, whatever the outcome. If you need to discuss this, or any other family law matter, we can help. All you need to do is get in touch to book a no-obligation chat.