Make sure their Christmas stays magical.
14th November 2018 by Gemma Burden
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 email@example.com or our family department on 01202 755980 or firstname.lastname@example.org