Avoid the ‘Nightmare before Christmas’ in dealing with child arrangements

Christmas can be a stressful time for anyone let alone for separated parents who need to decide which parent the children are going to spend with and, how the Christmas holidays are to be divided up. Hayley Coyne, Chartered Legal Executive in the family department, explains ways to avoid such stress, enabling both parents to enjoy the festive period.


Open, clear and polite communication between parents can achieve a good outcome which, keeps both parents and the children happy. It is ultimately better for parents to reach a decision as to what arrangements for their Christmas will be than a legal professional or Court.

Act early

Discussions between parents at an early stage means there will be less pressure to reach an agreement and therefore, allows more time for a middle ground arrangement to be reached between parents.

The Courts are very busy in the run up to Christmas and therefore, if arrangements are left to be arranged at short notice and, no agreement can be reached, it is unlikely that the Court can deal with these issues in time.

Act early and try to reach an agreement with plenty of time to spare so, should legal involvement be necessary there is time to resolve matters.

Best interests of the children

When deciding what arrangements should be, a child focused approach, is paramount. It is not always about what the parents or wider family want. The children’s wishes and views, particularly as they get older, should be taken into consideration when deciding what the arrangements should be. A child for example, may not wish to be taken from house to house, particularly on Christmas Day, just after they’ve opened their stocking from Father Christmas, just so that they can see both parents on Christmas Day.

Child Arrangement Order

There may already be a Child Arrangement Order which, provides for the arrangements for Christmas. It is therefore, worth considering the arrangements within an Order to ensure that Christmas arrangements are covered and, to ensure that they work for this year. Some Orders provide for alternate arrangements and therefore, just because a child spent Christmas with a parent last year, does not mean that they are this year.

Provided there are no safeguarding concerns, it would be the Court’s consideration that a child should spend time with both parents over the Christmas period. No parent has an automatic right to additional time with the children over the other.  What needs to be at the forefront of parent’s decisions as to Christmas arrangement, is what will give the children the best Christmas that they could imagine. Afterall, that is what the magic of Christmas is all about!

If you are however experiencing difficulties in dealing with Christmas arrangements and wish to discuss matters with one of our approachable and friendly family law experts, contact HK Law today.




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