Families coping with a recent separation or divorce can look to advice from family law experts this Christmas to ensure a conflict-free holiday.
From making independent plans, to keeping interaction civil or applying for court orders, the family law specialists at JMP Solicitors have shared advice on the best conduct for Christmas.
Neil Remnant, Resolution accredited, Law Society Lawyer and head of family law at JMP Solicitors, said: “Christmas is a time for family and showing solidarity, following a relationship breakdown it can be very difficult to keep a sense of ‘togetherness’ but this is so important, particularly during the festive season.
“To ensure Christmas is without conflict it’s very important to consider the family dynamic and the fact that it’s a sensitive and important time for keeping children as undisturbed and happy as possible to minimise damage in the aftermath of divorce or separation. We’ve compiled a list of important considerations to help keep Christmas conflict-free to minimise any further damage.”
Here is the list of five considerations for keeping Christmas family-friendly following a divorce:
- Make arrangements
If you can make arrangements for Christmas without legal interference, then it is advisable to do so. Being civil and organising a Christmas that’s fair to both parents and the children is the best action. If such agreement is not possible, then the court may become involved to ensure contact time with children at Christmas is fair to everyone. This can often involve one parent having children over the Christmas period one year, the other parent the next – this arrangement may suit parents, but if they’d like to see children at Christmas each year then it’s best for parents to sort arrangements between themselves.
- Invite the grandparents
The presence of grandparents at Christmas time can be helpful when trying to create a consistent, unified, happy environment following a divorce or separation. Grandparents do not have automatic rights to access with grandchildren, but they can apply to the court for contact.
- Don’t argue
Following the separation of parents, children will already feel unsettled, so it’s important that differences are put aside at the sentimental festive time. Christmas is a time for family, so for the sake of keeping children happy and secure, it’s important to stay calm, cheerful and to keep arguments for another day.
- Be amicable
In terms of previous Christmas routines – it’s important to stick to what children will remember and what is traditional for them. If you used to have dinner at a certain time, open presents at a certain time or even in a certain order, play board games in the afternoon etc, then try and stick to these. It’s these traditions that keep Christmas spirit alive, it’s what your children will remember and whatever arrangements are decided for Christmas, it’s important to know that structure is key.
- Stick to court orders
If the post-divorce or separation situation means it’s not possible for arrangements to be made by yourself, then the court can get involved to ensure that Christmas arrangements are sorted. The court will seek to deal with matters in a constructive way and in the interest of the children. As this will involve a court order, the arrangements made will be legally enforceable.