Special occasions such as Christmas, birthdays and other celebrations can often become challenging for separated parents. It can be stressful to try and find a solution that works best for everyone involved, especially children.
With the uncertainty around lockdown and Covid-19, there may be extra strain on your child arrangements. Our Family team are experienced in helping separated parents resolve disputes around child arrangements, including where the children will celebrate the holidays. If you already have a Child Arrangements Order in place, you must stick to these terms. Children are currently still able to move between households of separated parents, although it is unlikely, bear in mind that the government could issue new guidance in this area depending on lockdown rules.
Here are some of the ways our team recommend approaching child arrangements at Christmas.
If possible, try to discuss your plans and expectations for Christmas ahead of time, so any disagreements can be discussed before plans with other family members or friends are set in place. This can be done face to face, or via a letter, or through your solicitor if a court order prevents you from speaking to one another. Be clear about your wishes, and what you feel is best for your children, but bear in mind that compromise might be needed to get the best results.
Of course, it may not always be possible to plan ahead, or unexpected challenges may arise. In these instances, your solicitor may be able to support you in finding a suitable arrangement. Here’s how they could be involved:
In certain circumstances, it may be appropriate for your solicitor to write a letter to your ex-partner to try and come to an agreement. They can let you know if this option is right for you, as it may lead to more acrimony. One of the following choices might be a better solution.
MediationMediation could be an option if you need to revisit your child arrangements following a dispute or a change of circumstances. This helps you to keep your matters out of court, and allows for co-operation and compromise between parties so you can continue to co-parent effectively. Mediation can often help you reach a resolution quicker than going to court, which leads to less acrimony, and importantly, ensures the children’s wellbeing is addresses as soon as possible. The open communication used in mediation also keeps your children’s best interests at heart, and the mediator can help you reach an agreement that can be recorded in writing.
There are other ways to keep your dispute out of court in these situations, if mediation is not right for you. You can read about arbitration and early neutral evaluation here.
Collaboration between solicitorsIf your ex-partner’s solicitors are willing, a collaborative approach could be a good option if you need help reaching an agreement. This involves all parties and their solicitors working together to create a solution. This again can be a less acrimonious alternative to court, which allows you to put the children’s needs first.
Child Arrangements Order
If your existing child arrangements order covers Christmas and other holidays, all parties should follow the terms that have already been set out. However, if your order does not cover special occasions, or you have reason to change your arrangements, a solicitor can help you make an application to vary your Child Arrangements Order.
If you have any concerns about you or your child’s safety, please don’t hesitate to contact our family team, or your solicitor, for advice. Depending on your circumstances there are several options to get emergency safety measures in place.
However you choose to go forward, our family team has plenty of experience supporting parents and children in getting the best outcome possible. You can get in touch with our team on the number below, and they will be happy to discuss your options.
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