Child Custody at Christmas

Knowing how to split Christmas between divorced or separated parents can be difficult and upsetting. It can turn a time of year that should be for celebration into a stressful and emotional experience for both parents and children. 

Family lawyers often receive calls from parents when contact arrangements can’t be agreed, or the other parent is threatening not to stick to the child arrangement order or court order. Unfortunately, many of these calls come at the eleventh hour, sometimes even Christmas Eve, leaving little time to resolve the situation. 

Carla Williams, a Chartered Legal Executive in the Bromleys Family Law Team, shares some key advice to consider when making arrangements to see your child at Christmas.  

Start thinking about child contact arrangements early for Christmas. 

The earlier you and your ex-partner start suggesting plans for the Christmas period the better. The proposals put forward should be reasonable and you should both try to go about making plans in an amicable way. 

However, if you feel you are unable to do this in person you can send a polite email or ask for a third party to help you with negotiations. If coming to suitable arrangements cannot be made through family mediation, you need to allow for sufficient time to progress to court.  

If you are having trouble getting you ex-partner to discuss child arrangement plans for the holidays, get in touch with us today to see how we can help.  

What are my parental responsibilities while making child contact arrangements? 

Your children are your priority, and they should not be involved with any hostility or adult issues which may occur during the planning stages of contact arrangements. You and your ex-partner should not argue about contact or any other arrangements in front of the children at handovers. 

Do not force your children into contact arrangements or ask where they want to spend Christmas, as this could cause them distress. Older children can be involved in these discussions in an age-appropriate way, but they should never feel pressured. 

When handover and return times are agreed, both you are your ex-partner should stick to them. This will help build trust between you both and hopefully negate any concerns around the contact agreement. It will also assist with further discussion and agreement relating to contact in the future. 

We can help with negotiating plans between you and your ex-partner, call us to discuss how we can support you on 0161 330 6821.  

Consider the Christmas holidays as a whole, not just Christmas Day. 

Children often have two weeks off school during the holidays. So, an option when discussing child arrangements with your ex-partner is to consider alternating Christmas Day every year and having one week with each parent. 

Another option is to have two Christmas Days, especially if you cannot see you children until Boxing Day. This gives you a great excuse to give your children a second Christmas Day and the excitement of opening more presents! 

It’s a good idea to think outside the box when it comes to seeking contact with your children at Christmas. If you can’t see you children on Christmas Day, you can arrange an alternative option such as a telephone or video call with them, so they know you are thinking of them on the day. 

To avoid frustrations when buying gifts for your children, try to agree with your ex-partner on the presents beforehand. This will help prevent disappointment and duplications.  

Remember to enjoy time with your children during the Christmas period. 

If you and your ex-partner are able to spend some time together, and you have the children on Christmas Day, you could agree to your ex-partner calling to your house to give the children their presents. 

Most importantly remember to enjoy the time that you have with your children. They will always remember the time they spend with you, particularly celebrations such as Christmas. So, make sure you cherish it! 

Call our Family Team at Bromleys to discuss child custody and access at Christmas on 0161 330 6821. 

How can we help? 

We can advise on all aspects and stages of child arrangements, live with and spend time with, specific child custody issues, parental responsibility and injunctions. We will provide hands-on specialist representation and engage other experts where required. Our family team experts can also advise on all aspects and stages of childcare proceedings including interim care, supervision orders and wardship.

Should you wish to discuss any of these issues further, please contact a member of the Family Team at Bromleys on 0161 330 6821 for a free initial telephone consultation. Alternatively you can fill in our online form  or you can email us at and we will call you back.