LGFL: Five days of family meet-ups: how tensions can build before Christmas Day 2020

2020 has been a tough year on relationships, speeding up the break-up of marriages and partnerships already fractured or damaged by lockdowns and income insecurity.

This process has inevitably increased at Christmas in most years, when the media is filled with picture perfect images of families coming together and celebrating. This year, the ‘big 5’ supermarket adverts would have us believe that everyone has a family to welcome them home with open arms, a stacked table of food, and a glass or six. At least the adverts are more inclusive than before, embracing the diversity of types of families and relationships, but they still leave many with a sinking feeling.

They have also pretty much ignored the single biggest family stress factor this year; which are going to be the two households your family socialises with during the ‘bubble’ Five Days of Christmas period?


Take your pick

For many families, especially blended and extended families, the need to pick just two households to meet with (and only two) will make for some uncomfortable and potentially confrontational decisions.

  • Does that automatically mean two sets of grandparents but no siblings, for example?
  • Or one set of grandparents and one siblings’ family?
  • Or one sibling and one set of best friends?

The permutations can be endless. (At least children of separated or divorced parents can move between their parents’ homes without restriction as before.)

Bubbles and friends

These five-day only bubble arrangements are bound to place strains on relationships. Each partner could potentially be resentful that their access to extended family is curbed at Christmas in favour of their partner’s families.

For separated parents, the pressure is even greater, with potential conflicts of interest between four sets of grandparents, several siblings and new partners too. Add in the logistics of juggling all of this within a five-day period, especially if long distances are involved, and resentment will start to build.

It’s all too easy for discussions to turn into arguments too. For single parents already facing the prospect of Christmas Day on their own without the kids, this situation can evolve into anger, sadness and resentment. Their lives have changed so much, and don’t fit the media images we are all exposed to. They may also feel that their former partner or spouse seems to be getting the better deal all the time. Normally polite discussions and agreements over child arrangements can quickly become acrimonious phone calls, emails and texts, that make the matter worse.

Once the Five Days are over, it’s back to the Tier system ‘rule of six’. Then, arguments over those you both want to meet outside (and where), could just add to the feelings of unfairness and frustration.

How to cope with Christmas 2020

First of all, don’t be reactive. If a message comes in from your ex partner that gets you angry or upset, set it aside for a period of time. Don’t dash off a text or message immediately. Being a keyboard warrior may make you feel better momentarily, but it rarely resolves anything. Remember, texts and messages are often produced as evidence in future court proceedings, so do consider how this reflects on you and your values.

Instead, be child focused and consider their wishes. It’s their Christmas too.


It’s over…

For many couples already struggling in their marriage, December is the point where they decide enough is enough. Whilst they may ‘stay together for the children’ over Christmas, they want to start proceedings in December and make a ’fresh start’ in the New Year.

Sometimes this is a good tactic - but this year hasn’t been normal. If you have a complex family situation, trying to start proceedings before the schools break up or by the Christmas holiday period may be just too much to achieve.

Instead, we would advise to seek early legal advice this side of Christmas. This allows you to understand the implications and overall picture, so you can plan for action. Early advice can also relieve a whole layer of stress and worry, giving you time to relax and recoup your energy for resolving your situation in the New Year. Most importantly, it will give you a chance to reflect on your case objectives and the legal proceedings ahead.


The January rush - will a lockdown Christmas create one?

At LGFL we never advocate or promote the so-called media labelled ‘Divorce Day’. However, with the added stresses this year of a Covid Christmas, it is likely that many relationships will be pushed to their limit. Add that to the court’s existing backlog, which could lead to delays.

If, however, you have already contacted us before Christmas and we have had that initial conversation, we know what your situation is. We know what you require, and we can move forward swiftly in January 2021 to resolve your issues or proceed with your divorce without delay.

So, if you’re feeling anxious or concerned about what ending a relationship after Christmas might involve, talk to us now. An hour of professional, focused, legal consultation may not be the most exciting gift you could give yourself this holiday season, but it is probably the most important. It will also help relieve that pre-Xmas tension, give you space and time to enjoy those key five days with at least some of your family, and reflect on how you wish your future to look.


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Book an hour initial consultation and we’ll give you 30 minutes free. So you can talk through your situation, receive advice and spend less too.

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