For the sake of the Children.

Miranda Green head of our Family law team offers some helpful Christmas advice in Elmbridge & Kingston December issue.

Christmas is a magical time for children with all the enchanting images of Father Christmas, the anticipation of presents and family get-togethers.  Of course the reality for the parents can be different, particularly if those parents are either on the brink of separating or have separated.

Many parents do decide to stick together for one last Christmas and this leads to a surge of separations in the New Year.

For those that have already separated Christmas can be a particularly difficult time and when the loss of a relationship can be most keenly felt for both the parents and the children.

If you are in this position what can you do to make Christmas as enjoyable as possible for all concerned?  

Here are some tips:-

  • Remember that Christmas is predominantly for the children and try to put aside your animosity towards your ex-partner as far as possible.
  • Try and agree the arrangements as fairly as possible and in good time.  Be prepared to be flexible and co-operate.  The ability to communicate and compromise is a key skill and you should not seek to dictate terms or plans to your former partner.  Remember if you make things difficult for your partner with the children do not be surprised if they do the same to you in the future. 
  • The children will want to spend time with both parents and they need to be able to do so without fear of upsetting either parent.  You also need to be able to make plans for when the children are not with you.
  • Try not to compete with your ex on the present buying front and do make sure that you let each other know what you are buying so that the children do not get a duplicate present. You may want to agree with your ex that any large presents are joint so as to avoid one parent feeling out done on the present buying front.
  • Guilt is a wasted emotion. You may feel guilty that the children will no longer have a “family” Christmas with both their parents. Think differently – they will be having two Christmases instead. If they do come to you and say they miss the old times then listen to them but whilst not dismissing their feelings sow the seed that change can be a good thing.
  • Try and find new traditions to deal with the children at Christmas so they remember their time with you fondly and have happy memories rather than feeling sad about the changes in their family.
  • Reach out to family and friends for support.  The old adage “the more the merrier” is certainly true at this time of year. Having family and friends around you can be very helpful both to you and the children.  Surround yourself with people who love and care for you. It is important to make sure that you make plans for when the children will be with their other parent so that you are not alone.
  • If you intend to go on holiday abroad then you will need the permission of all persons with parental responsibility for each child.  If you travel without such permission, you are potentially committing child abduction which is a criminal offence.  The exception to this is if you have a Child Arrangements Order specifying that the child lives with you. Then you may take the child abroad for up to 28 days without the consent of others with parental responsibility.
  • If you are going away, provide the other parent with full details of your travel plans, including (but not limited to):
    • Your proposed holiday dates;
    • Travel plans (including flight numbers (or similar) and times);
    • Details of accommodation; and
    • Emergency contact details.

Ideally seek the consent of the other parent to your proposed travel plans before you book but certainly do not leave it until the last minute to seek their agreement. Whilst the Family court will deal with urgent Christmas applications of this nature it really is not the place you want to be during the season to be jolly.

For further information or discuss a family law matter, please contact Miranda Green 01932 590670 or miranda.green@mundays.co.uk. Miranda leads one of the largest and most established Family Law teams in the South East of England, with the team backed by top tier rankings in both legal directories as ‘efficient, professional, considerate and personable with excellent knowledge in the area of family law’.

The contents of this article are intended as guidance for readers. It can be no substitute for specific advice. Consequently we cannot accept responsibility for this information, errors or matters affected by subsequent changes in the law, or the content of any website referred to in this update. © Mundays LLP.

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