One of the questions that I get asked frequently as a family lawyer surrounds Christmas and who the children should spend Christmas with.
The question of Christmas contact is one that comes up throughout the year and one that is usually always included in any Child Arrangements Orders. A Child Arrangements Order is a Court Order that deals with the arrangements for the children i.e. which parent the children will live with and the time they will spend with the other parent.
The Court encourages parents to resolve issues surrounding children themselves and will not usually make an Order unless matters have broken down and there is a need for them to become involved and do so.
In any children matters the Court’s paramount concern is the welfare of the children. There is a starting presumption that children should have contact with both of their parents as long as there are no welfare or safety concerns.
Although there is no standard or precedent type Child Arrangement Order that deals with contact, as long as there are no welfare concerns, the Court would expect the parents to alternate Christmas each year. Sometimes this will be split so that one parent has a few days around Christmas one year with the other having that time with the children the following year and sometimes Christmas day will be split so the children get to spend some time with both parents on Christmas Day itself. The children’s ages and distance between the parents’ houses will be factors to consider when considering arrangements. Ultimately it is about making a decision that is best for the children and the Court will be likely to make an assumption that children would want to see both of their parents around Christmas time.
Once a pattern for Christmas has been agreed then the parents can plan to celebrate Christmas on a different day when it is not their year to have the children.
Resolving issues such as contact can be done by negotiation and/or mediation or through the Court process. Applications can be made to the Court for the Court to determine any issues that the parents cannot resolve themselves including that of Christmas contact. If you need any advice or assistance in this regard then please do not hesitate to contact me or one of our other family solicitors. We have experienced family solicitors in each of our 3 offices that would be happy to meet with you and advise you.
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