One of the hardest things for families to cope with is Christmas. It is an emotive time of the year particularly for separated families with young children. Each parent will want to have their children with them on Christmas Day and, as we all know, sometimes that is simply impossible. This can be due to something as simple as logistics of travel depending on the distance, or in the alternative one parents view of “we have always had Christmas with my parents and so the children should be with me”.


When it comes to Christmas and separated families sadly the whole issue of who should have what can become contentious and at this time of year it is not uncommon to see the Court’s lists full of applications for contact for children. Parents need to consider that contact is for the benefit of the child, rather than the parent. It is the child’s right to have a full and good relationship with both parents and the only way that this can happen is if Mum and Dad can communicate constructively and be prepared to compromise. The Court’s position on Christmas and New Year is that it should alternate between the parents and that on the year that one parent has the New Year then they celebrate their Christmas at that point. If you ask a child who they want to spend Christmas with, probably in the first instant they would say with you both. Pragmatically however, as long as they get to see you they don’t really mind and hey they get to celebrate Christmas twice – which to any child is pretty fantastic. What they won’t thank you for is arguing and causing upset (which then makes them potentially have to choose sides).

Conflict between parents is known to significantly impact on children’s abilities to form relationships in the future and this is not what any parent should want for their child. If you are struggling with this then there are many ways forward. The first and most pragmatic is to try to sit down and talk reasonably, being aware that compromise is necessary for your children’s welfare. If you don’t think that would work, then mediation (which is where you and your former partner/spouse can sit down with a trained mediator who will help you to compromise things). The final alternative is to seek help from lawyers and the Court, being very much aware that a Court ultimately may make an order that neither of you will be happy with.

If you need further help and advice then please don’t hesitate to contact our Family Team on 01202 877400 or family@newnham-jordan.co.uk – because your family matters to us and we are here to help.

Fiona Pawsey
Article by Fiona Pawsey
Fiona has been practicing family law for over 12 years initially as a Legal Executive and then subsequently as a solicitor. Fiona is a trained collaborative solicitor, as well as a Resolution Panel Member. She is experienced in advising clients going through divorce or family breakdown, including financial settlements and disputes over children, in particular complex contact and residence issues. In addition to family law Fiona also deals with litigation, property transactions and residential Conveyancing

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