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Who gets the kids at Christmas? Guidance for separated parents

Nov 9th, 2018

As a separated parent at this time of year you may be trying to agree with your ex partner where your children spend the festive period. This can be a highly emotive issue particularly when young children are involved.

You will both want to join in your children’s excitement and anticipation whilst they are waiting for Santa to arrive and see the look on their faces on Christmas morning. Of course it is not possible, when you are separated, for you both to spend this magical time with your children and the issue then becomes how the festive period is divided.

You should always try and reach an agreement either between yourselves or through the process of mediation. If an agreement cannot be reached then the issue of Christmas contact could be considered by the Court.

What happens when the Court is involved.

The Court has the power to make a Child Arrangements Order setting out who your children live with and how much time they should spend with the other parent or family member. This can include arrangements for special occasions such as Christmas and Birthdays. When deciding what Order is appropriate the Court must consider what is in the best interests of the particular child or children concerned. The Court will take into consideration a number of factors when deciding this. These factors are referred to as the Welfare Checklist. 

When considering Christmas contact specifically the Court may consider particular religious practices observed by you or your ex partner and, if appropriate, the expressed wishes and feelings of your children. The distance between your two households may also be relevant in deciding how the time should be split. Ultimately there is no hard and fast rule about where a child should spend time at Christmas. What works for one family may not work for another.

It is always better to try and make arrangements as far in advance as possible to avoid the potential of conflict ruining the run up to Christmas. If you require help with Christmas contact arrangements, our Child Law specialists are happy to help.

Contact the team

Lincoln  01522 508884

York      01904 610886

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