Child Arrangements for Christmas and the New Year

Richard Gilbert
12 November 2020

With everything that we have had to endure this year, it’s hard to believe that Christmas is almost upon us, but it will be in six weeks’ time.

For families with children, the periods of lockdown have brought their own challenges. Not only have children needed to be occupied and educated, but they have also needed to maintain positive relationships with family and friends. Where children aren’t living with both their parents in the same household, this has meant spending time with each parent in their own homes. 

As things stand at the moment, those of us living in England can expect to come out of lockdown on 2nd December 2020. Hopefully, none of us will be in lockdown for Christmas. Even if we are, children whose parents live in different households can still expect to spend Christmas in each of their parents’ homes.

If you, or anyone you know, find yourself in this situation, what can you or they do to prepare for the festive season? 

  • If you haven’t done so already, start planning now by contacting your child’s other parent to discuss your respective plans for Christmas and the New Year and how you would like your child(ren) to spend time with each of you.
  • Once you and the other parents have put together a possible plan, consider (where appropriate) discussing it with your child(ren) so they can buy into the arrangements and prepare themselves for what’s to come.
  • Confirm your arrangements by text, email or WhatsApp, so no one is in any doubt about what’s been agreed.

Things to consider:

  • How long your child(ren) will be off school over the Christmas and New Year period. Try and make provision for the whole of that period of time. Don’t just focus on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Eve.
  • What were the arrangements last year and can they be reversed for this year and then alternated for future years to create certainty?
  • Try and be flexible. Both parents will want to spend time with their child(ren) on Christmas Day, so think about sharing the day between you. If you do this, remember that a child may be unable to eat two very big meals in one day, so where possible allow for this in your planning.
  • Bear in mind any existing customs and traditions, and think about creating new ones to allow for your current circumstances.
  • Just because you’re no longer with your child(ren)’s other parent doesn’t mean that your child(ren) shouldn’t show their love and appreciation for them. Help your child(ren) to buy or make a present and/or a card for their other parent. This will send a positive message to your child(ren).
  • Ultimately, ensure that your plans are focused around your child(ren). Give them the space they need to spend time with both parents and their respective families, so you can all celebrate Christmas as stress-free and as relaxed as possible.
  • And after your child has spent time with their other parent (however long this may be), resist the temptation to compare the type of Christmas they had there. It’s important that they can hold on to – and treasure – the memories of time spent with each of their parents for years to come.

If you find you can’t agree on the arrangements for your child(ren) over Christmas, all is not lost – you still have time to sort things out. And Richard Gilbert at Spencer West can help you make these arrangements see contact details below.

Richard Gilbert
Partner - Family, Contested Trust & Probate
Richard Gilbert is a Partner Solicitor at Spencer West. He specialises in Divorce and separation, finances, arrangements for children, nuptial agreements, living together and separation agreements, cohabitees, challenging a Will or an estate and the way an estate is being administered, Collaborative process.