Separation and Christmas - An Advice Guide
Christmas is the season of Goodwill, or so the saying goes, but this is not always the case in households that are unhappy.
A common cause of upset can be parents who are separated and who are trying to make arrangements for their children over the Christmas period.
Parents must remember that the most important person, especially at this time, is the child. In an ideal world the child would like Mum and Dad to be together and everybody to be happy, but we do not live in such a world.
If contact has not been agreed then do it now. Normal contact arrangements should be put on hold for the festive season. To leave it until Christmas Eve is only going to cause problems for everybody as other plans will have been made as to how the Christmas period is to be spent and it is no good assuming that you know what the arrangements are. –Check and confirm with each other.
If you want contact over the Christmas period it does no harm to say, “can I have contact” instead of “I want Contact” they mean the same, but the first indicates that you are willing to be flexible, and as such, you are more likely to agree arrangements.
It is nice to see the Children on Christmas day, but what about the child? Is it fair to interrupt the child’s day playing with his or her new toys so that you can see them for a short period of time? Consider picking the child up on Christmas night and have your child stop with you all day Boxing day, with Santa coming again on Christmas night you can then spend time watching your child opening their presents in the morning, as the children enjoy their 2nd Christmas in two days.
Families, Of course, do not just consist of Mum and Dad, many families these days include other half siblings or other children who they are not related to, and parents should consider if it is fair to take a child away from this ‘family’ half way through Christmas day?, is it going to cause the child any undue distress to leave everybody else behind? It is a fine balancing act to get the contact arrangements right especially if the child is insecure. However it is always more important for the child to spend good quality time with their absent parent than to spend time visiting extended family members at this time, those people maybe your relative and it may be tradition to meet up with them but your child’s needs should come first.
Remember that your child still loves both of you and they do not want to hear the people they love fighting and shouting at one another, that is not what Christmas is all about, there has to be give and take at Christmas time to make sure that the childhood memories of Christmas do not include constant disputes for your child.
Christmas can also be a very difficult time for families who have perhaps been unhappy for some time and are heading towards separation. Christmas can be the final “breaking point” for some families. If you decide during the Christmas period that a separation is the only way forward there will be various issues that you need to consider:-
• How and when do you tell the children
• Is one of you going to move out and if so how will you arrange your financial affairs in the interim
• Does the house need to be put on the market
• What do you do with joint bank accounts and credit cards
Ten Tips for Parents
It is important that you get detailed legal advice before you make any of these decisions. Our offices re-open after the Christmas period on 30th December and we are available to take your call. Alternatively you can arrange a Consultation by completing our on-line Consultation form.