Ten tips for a successful post-separation Christmas
Divorce  |  Family law

Ten tips for a successful post-separation Christmas

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Walker Family Law
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Christmas is, of course, supposed to be a ‘family time’, above all else. Christmas after a separation can therefore be especially difficult, particularly when young children are involved. Ten tips for a successful post-separation Christmas

Here are ten tips for a successful post-separation Christmas to help the festive season go as smoothly as possible:

  1. Firstly, and perhaps most importantly, try to put aside any ill-feeing towards the other parent. Even if the separation was marked by rancour and bitterness, sign a ‘Christmas truce’, for the sake of the children. Whatever happens, you will need to deal with the other parent, to sort out arrangements. And if there is ill-feeing then the children will pick up on it, spoiling the occasion for them.
  2. Put the children first. You may well have your own strong views about what should happen at Christmas, but Christmas is not just about what each parent wants. So when making arrangements for Christmas, always keep in mind what is best for the children, rather than what is best for you.
  3. So what should the arrangements be over the festive period? What time should the children spend with each parent? Well, there are no rules: for example, the children could spend part of Christmas Day with each parent, assuming the parents live close enough together. Or they could spend Christmas Day with one parent, and Boxing Day with the other, effectively giving them two Christmas Days (an arrangement to which they are unlikely to object!). Or the parents could even spend Christmas Day together with the children, if they are on sufficiently good terms.
  4. Remember, Christmas is not just about one day. You could, for example, consider alternating Christmas and New Year, so that one year the children spend Christmas Day with their mother and New Year with their father, and the next year this is reversed. Such an arrangement could particularly be appropriate if the parents live some distance apart.
  5. Don’t try to ‘out do’ the other parent when it comes to Christmas presents, or any other Christmas treats. Christmas isn’t a competition to be the best, or the most favoured, parent.
  6. And liaise with the other parent when it comes to presents for the children, so you don’t both buy the same thing. There is nothing more disappointing for a child than to receive the same Christmas present twice.
  7. Don’t forget grandparents and other family members. As we said at the start of this post, Christmas is about family, and that includes grandparents, and other close family members. Make sure they are included in the arrangements for the children.
  8. Consider half siblings and blended families. After their parents separate, the children may obviously find themselves sharing their lives with half-siblings, or children of their parent’s new partner. If this is the case they may not want to spend Christmas Day apart from their new ‘brothers and sisters’.
  9. Which brings us to the next tip: listen to the children. Forcing them to do what they don’t want to will only make them unhappy. And they may well have some good ideas for how new-look Christmases should be spent. So discuss arrangements with them, and listen to what they have to say, taking into account their age and understanding.
  10. Lastly, look after yourself. If you are the parent spending Christmas without your children, try not to let it get you down. Stay positive. Consider spending your time with friends or other family members, if you can. Whatever you do, don’t spend your time yearning for Christmas ‘like it used to be’. Christmas may never be the same again, but that doesn’t mean that it has to be worse than it was, just different.

Ian Walker Family Law & Mediation Solicitors are award-winning family solicitors and are recognised as one of the leading family law firms in the South West of England. For expert advice, please contact the team.

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