Trying to arrange contact between children and non-resident parents over the Christmas period can often cause conflict and lead to disagreements.
There are no hard-and-fast rules about what contact arrangements should take place between separated parents and children over the festive period, each family will have their own individual needs to address and there are several things that could be considered to make this easier;
- Communicate – Try to communicate with the other parent. If it is difficult to communicate face-to-face, try emailing or texting to sort out arrangements. Re-read what you plan to send before sending to ensure that it addresses the issue at hand.
- Plan – It is important to try and have your arrangements sorted well in advance, that way you can plan for visits to/from distant relatives and arrange this around the time you will spend with the children.
- Consider the children – It is important to consider the impact any contact arrangements will have on the children. This is the approach the Court would adopt and this should be at the forefront of any parents’ mind when making arrangements in respect of the children.
- Timings – Ensure drop offs and collections are carried out on time to ensure the children do not have to wait around. It should also be agreed in advance who will be responsible for dropping the children off or collecting them.
If contact arrangements cannot be agreed, parents should attempt mediation whereby an independent mediator will try to assist the parties formulate arrangements which both parents are happy with.
Should mediation not be successful, there is the option to make an application to the Court, usually for a Child Arrangements Order to spend time with a child or children, or to vary an existing Order.