The circumstances resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic have made 2020 a very difficult year for separated couples, especially those with children. As such, making arrangements that work in the best interests of the whole family has not always been possible.
While the government have announced that there will be an easing of restrictions during the Christmas period, where up to three different households can be together, families will be wondering what this will mean for them.
As social distancing rules will still apply either side of Christmas, planning celebrations that are suitable for separated parents, their children and the wider family could prove to be challenging.
With that in mind, here is some advice to consider if you’re making plans for the Christmas period post-separation.
Make plans early and stick to them
Even under normal circumstances, separated couples should always look to draw up a clear plan for Christmas at an early stage. By working alongside your former partner, you’ll be able come up with a list of times and dates, so you both know exactly what is going to happen and when.
It is also important that you keep track of current events around the country, so you can tailor your plans accordingly. For example, different parts of the country will be in various ‘tiers’ before and after Christmas, so keep that in mind if you’re making plans that lie outside of the 5-day period set by the government (23rd - 27th December).
The unusual circumstances will, of course, call for some level of flexibility for both parents, but you should also make efforts to stick to the original plans you set out. Last minute changes or unexpected appearances are only likely to lead to further disruption – especially for your children.
Consider the other parent
One of the most important things to keep in mind while you’re making plans for Christmas is to be as fair as possible to the other parent. Inevitably, the situation will call for compromises from both parties, so be mindful.
The last thing you will want is for there to be a bitter argument – especially if it involves your children. If you both communicate exactly what your intentions are at an early stage, then there will be less chance of that happening.
Always put your children first
If you have children with your former partner, they should always be at the heart of every decision you make. Christmas can be an incredibly difficult time for children with separated parents, so be sure to tell them what’s happening and ask them if they feel comfortable.
If you have older children, it’s especially important for them to feel as though their voice is being heard, so be sure to involve them in any discussions you have.
Consider legal advice
In some circumstances, you may feel as though your parental rights are being neglected by your former partner, preventing you from being able to make appropriate arrangements for the Christmas period.
If that’s the case, then you would be well advised to consult a family law solicitor, who can help to clarify your rights and whether any of the rules that will be in place during the Christmas period are likely to have an effect on your ability to spend time with your children.
Get in touch with our divorce and separation solicitors in Newport
We have decades of experience in helping individuals and families deal with a wide range of legal issues associated with divorce and separation.
Our divorce and separation team includes several Law Society accredited Family Law and Children Law specialists, as well as members of Resolution, a group of family lawyers committed to removing the conflict from divorce and family law.