Christmas is coming; sort out your child custody arrangements now to avoid conflict later

Despite everyone’s best intentions, Christmas is inevitably a stressful time for some families, especially if the child care arrangements (custody) are divided between two parents. The interruption of normal routines and the added pressure of including extended family into different arrangements can pile on even more unwanted tension.


girl-decorating-christmas-tre-WebOur experience suggests that by taking a more relaxed viewpoint, parents with shared custody can save themselves and their children a lot of upset. For example it may be better for children to spend one week of their school holidays with one parents and one week with the other, regardless of when Christmas Day actually falls. Equally, taking a longer-term view such that one year the children are with you, the next year with your ex, gives a sense of continuity and order into what can be a very hectic time.

At this time of year, online parenting forums can be a source of inspiration for other solutions to the whole ‘who has the kids for Christmas’ issue.

At online site Netmums,

Christine L suggests:

“We have done Xmas Eve/Xmas daytime with one, Xmas evening/Boxing Day with the other.”


Sheri G explained that her husband’s children from a previous marriage got a ‘double deal’ each year:

“They had two Christmas days, one with us on Christmas Eve and one with Mum on Christmas Day – and two birthdays!!!”


Chris S suggests:

“I only live 5 mins from my ex and felt the best thing was to split the day and alternate each year. So (with one parent) up till after lunch then swap. Kids then spend Christmas day and a meal with both of us.”

At influential website Mumsnet,
CardyMow suggests:

“We alternate Christmas so each year one of us will have him Christmas Eve and Christmas day, with DS1 being either picked up or dropped off at 9am Boxing Day.”

Give your family the gift of mediation

If you find it difficult to come to an agreement, mediation can help. By meeting in a non-confrontational location such as our offices, you and your ex can talk through issues and solutions. You’ll both be guided by an experienced mediator, who will offer a legal prospective to any proposed arrangements and generally keep he meeting on tack and focused on solutions, not accusations. It is also a more practical and timely solution than applying to the courts for an order, since there is usually limited court time available in December.

If mediation is not appropriate, we can help you in addressing the issues via correspondence. Whilst is it sometimes human nature to want to avoid dealing with the issue, proposing Christmas arrangements in good time before the actual festive season can alleviate a great deal of stress and potentially avoid costly and stressful litigation.

Chris S at Netmums sums it up nicely:

“When all is said and done it’s about compromises. Neither parent can have it their way. After a split it’s crucial that children are put first. That means maximising time and opportunities with each parent. Have you thought about mediation to work something out?”

If we can help you and your family formalise your Christmas child care (custody) arrangements this year, call us to make an appointment.