Before we know it, Christmas will be upon us, and for divorced or separated parents, it can be a particularly difficult time.
It is often the case that bitter disagreements can arise between parents over Christmas contact arrangements and it can be an area fraught with emotion.
At the time of writing, with only 11 weeks left to Christmas here are hopefully some useful tips which could help avoid nasty, last minute disputes:
1. Do Plan Ahead
Don’t leave discussion over contact arrangements to the last minute when there will simply not be enough time to sort out details properly, whether with your ex-partner or a mediator.
Do plan now: that means starting to talk with your ex-partner about arrangements.
Don’t assume your family lawyer will be instantly available at 4.00p.m. on the 23rd December to help you resolve your contact problem for Christmas Day.
If you cannot talk directly for whatever reason then do consider using an agreed third party family member as an informal mediator. Use someone you both trust. If there is no one available like this then consider a referral now to a Family Mediator.
2. Family Mediation
Do consider a Family Meditator – they are entirely neutral and independent.
One advantage of mediation is that Legal Aid is still available subject, of course ,to financial eligibility.
Don’t panic! You do not necessarily have to sit in the same room with your ex-partner if you do not want to. This is called ‘Shuttle Mediation’. Do tell the Mediator at the beginning of the process if you want this form of mediation.
3. Do Concentrate On What Is Best For The Children
Do remember that above everything else, the wants and needs of your children should come first. Christmas is all about children and you will want your children to have good memories of Christmas as they grow up. You do not want their recollection of Christmas as children to be clouded by arguments between mum and dad.
Don’t underestimate how aware your children will be of conflict between you and your ex-partner.
4. Do Instruct A Family Solicitor Now
Lastly if all of the above does not work, do contact your family solicitor in order to give him or her enough time to get an application to Court and a hearing date before Christmas.
Don’t put it off: with only 11 weeks left before Christmas now is the time to be making a Court Application to resolve Christmas contact disputes. It takes time for your solicitor to get an initial hearing date from the Court.