Before we know it, Christmas will be upon us. If it is your first family Christmas during or following divorce or separation from a partner, we understand that it can be a particularly difficult time.

Here are a few tips to help avoid any difficult disputes:

  1. Approach the subject of Christmas contact with the child’s parent as soon as possible. Try to put an agreement in place well in advance of the festive period so everyone knows where they stand. Once a mutual decision has been made, it is worth confirming in writing what has been agreed, to avoid any misunderstanding later on.
  2. Remember that the best interests of the children should be your main priority when making contact arrangements. It is important that the children see both parents are working together to give them a happy Christmas. Talk through the arrangements with the children – listen to how they feel. Try your best to stick to keep to what you have agreed. This will avoid any arguments.
  3. If you do have to disagree, try to keep disagreements away from children. It is also best not to talk negatively about the other parent – your children should not have to choose between you. Try and present a united front. If you do mention the other parent, describe things in a way that shows you are supportive of each other’s parenting.
  4. Making an emergency plan is always a sensible idea – i.e. bad weather making travelling difficult or impossible. Ensure all eventualities are covered so there are minimal disruptions leading up to the big day.
  5. Try to coordinate presents for the children with the other parent. This can help avoid purchasing the same gift and ease stress. Don’t overdo it with the gifts. Time with loved ones is more important.
  6. Think about who the children would like to see – grandparents, aunties and uncles etc, they will no doubt want to see all of the important people in their life. You may find that extended family members can help with handovers too, if moving between one parent and another is stressful on both the children and you.
  7. Allow yourself time to deal with your own feelings, it will be a no doubt be a difficult time. Speak to family and friends and surround yourself with positive support.
  8. If the separation is recent, the children too may feel sad and distressed – the dynamics of the family Christmas is now very different, so of course it will take a bit of time to adjust. Explain that Christmas will be just as fun and they will get to see all the special people in their life.

If you cannot reach an agreement regarding Christmas contact, then call us for specialist legal advice on 01792 468684 or email The sooner the arrangements are made the sooner you can relax a little.

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