Welcome to the first post in our series of four, each of which will cover one of the hot topics we know cause stress and tension for families during the festive period. 

Agreeing contact at Christmas

Christmas is all about spending time with your family. For mums and dads who are no longer together, it’s about spending as much time with the children as possible, whilst also appreciating that in most cases, they will need to see the other parent and their family.

Christmas Eve and then Christmas day can act as touch points for conflict. Considerations when discussing contact include; who gets to put out a stocking and mince pie for Santa and then spend Christmas morning opening presents, and who gets to enjoy Christmas lunch later on in the day. With some advance planning, and a bit of festive give and take, it’s often possible to come to an agreement that suits everybody.

Communicate early

We’ve found that the best way to reach a suitable contact arrangement is to start talking early. In our experience, it’s far better to come to one or two meetings with your collaborative lawyer to talk about Christmas contact, rather than having a series of letters going back and forth between the lawyers.

One of the benefits of collaborative law is that it enables the parties to discuss any issues in a non-confrontational manner, without the formality and process of a court hearing. This often means it’s possible to reach an agreement without anybody feeling like they have been told what to do (which can happen in a court setting). It also means that neither party is forced into a corner, or has to back down at the last minute.

Of course ultimately it means avoiding going to court, and at this time of year, it can be very difficult to get a hearing in time anyway.

Be flexible and show a little Christmas cheer

If your former partner is a little late in bringing the children to the house, or if they accidentally buy the same present as you, try to be understanding. It’s easy to let emotions overrule logic – especially at Christmas time when they are heightened anyway – but it’s best to try to remain calm.

A row will ruin Christmas for you, for your ex and most importantly, for your children.