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Happy girl in the snow at Christmas

Make sure their Christmas stays magical.

14th November 2018 by Gemma Burden

Categories: Family Mediation News
Tags: , , , ,

We all remember the magical excitement of Christmas from our childhood, and as adults, we strive to recreate this for our children. However, the reality can sometimes be very different, especially if you are separated or divorced from your partner.

Our family mediators can work with parents through weekly arrangements, holidays, birthdays and other special days with co-operation and calm discussion, but for some reason when the heading ‘Christmas’ goes on the flip chart, the tide turns and body language visibly changes.

If you are faced this Christmas with the difficult task of trying to agree how your children share their time, these are commonly what many other families do and might be your starting point:

  • Alternating arrangements each year – one year Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with Mum and Boxing Day with Dad, and the Next year Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with Dad and Boxing Day with Mum
  • Splitting Christmas Day – Morning with Mum and Afternoon with Dad, swapping over the following year
  • Always Christmas Day with one parent and Boxing Day with the other

‘We can’t agree’… If discussion between parents directly cannot achieve a solution, a referral to mediation will enable both parents to have further discussion in a calm, respectful, constructive setting, with help and support from an impartial mediator who will explore all available options for you.

Importantly, this process enables the parents to remain in control and reach an understanding for a happier Christmas and smoother transition for the child between homes.

If agreement through mediation cannot be reached (and there is an expectation from the court that mediation be considered first), a court application may need to be made. In this arena, the court takes control of the decision making.  A judge or magistrate will decide how the child, (and it follows his or her parents), spends the Christmas period.  The guiding factor for the court will be to make an order that is in the best interests of the child.  Outcomes can vary from case to case but very commonly this will involve some degree of sharing with recognition that the child can enjoy the experience of Christmas in two homes, one way or another.

 What of the child’s wishes?

As with many decisions over child arrangements, the degree to which a child’s wishes are taken into account will depend on their age and understanding, but both mediation and court can allow children an independent voice.

When arrangements are handled by co-operative parents, most children are amenable to the idea of having double the fun at Christmas… let’s face it, with two lots of excitement and Santa making a special trip to visit them at both homes, why wouldn’t they?

If you would like any further advice on family matters please contact either our Mediation department on 01202 721822 or or our family department on 01202 755980 or


Gemma Burden

Partner — Mediation

Direct dial: 01202 721822


Gemma Burden profile image
  • “I was very happy with Gemma Burden. She was very clear and to the point. Gemma Burden was very good at staying neutral. This must be very hard sometimes. She is very professional and is very good at explaining all points in mediation. I would recommend Laceys Mediation to all. I would give Gemma Burden top marks in all aspects of mediation and she has my thanks.”


  • “Gemma was able to help us narrow the issues between us so we could focus on resolution. I feel she treated us both equally and professionally.”

    Maria Vine

  • “Gemma seemed to quickly understand our situation and acted accordingly and in what I felt with best interest.”


Gemma is the head of our mediation department and a Family Mediation Council Accredited lawyer mediator. Gemma qualified as a solicitor in 2000 and joined Laceys in 2001. She has specialised in family law since qualifying as a solicitor and has worked full time as a mediator since 2009.

Gemma is qualified in all areas of family mediation, including divorce and financial settlements, child arrangements and property disputes between cohabitees.  She is also qualified to see children as part of the mediation process.  Gemma is able to draw on her legal expertise when helping couples work out complex financial settlements and new parenting arrangements.

In her spare time Gemma likes to spend time with her family, especially her dog who never answers back.  Her chosen stress beaters are running, swimming and the beach.

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