We are now just under a month away from Christmas. Whilst for many of us we haven’t even thought about putting up the Christmas decorations, for separating couples, urgent thought needs to be given to the arrangements for their children.
Why? Without any specific arrangements in place, such as a Child Arrangements Order, there is little can be done to resolve a dispute over the Christmas period. In England and Wales, all those who hold parental responsibility have the ability to make decisions on children’s behalf. As such, unless a child is at risk of harm, there is little that can be done by the police, for example.
Therefore, early action should be considered. Obviously when approaching any proposed arrangement, it is important that parents aim to work together to reach agreement. A good starting point is for parents to consider the Court’s approach in that it is a child’s right to have a meaningful relationship with both of its parents. Sometimes, agreement is not possible directly between parents and can be assisted with the instruction of a solicitor who will help negotiate those arrangements. Any arrangements in place need to be in the child’s best interest and there is no set rule as to what arrangements suit children best. Sometimes this can mean one parent spends every Christmas Eve to Christmas Day with a child and the other Christmas Day to Boxing Day. For others, altering these arrangements year by year may work better for the child. Whilst others will agree for the whole of Christmas Day to be spent with one and the whole of Boxing Day with the other.
Prompt instruction will also help to avoid a Christmas headache as many firms close over the Christmas period and do not re-open until early January. The Courts also run on a limited schedule throughout this period.
Having a clear agreement in place over Christmas arrangements will help reduce stress so that parents can spend time doing what is most important, spending time with their c