Is Christmas Contact in dispute?

With there being less than 100 days before Christmas, a special, happy time becomes very stressful for parents who are going through relationship difficulties or for parents who have separated.

Is it too early to consider the arrangements for Christmas contact? – no it is not, because the sooner contact is addressed the more likely it is that an agreement can be put in place to ensure that the Christmas period is a special time for children seeing their parents even if they are in two separate households.

Is Christmas Contact in dispute?

Children having contact with the parent they do not live with can become a bone of contention between the parties and this often leads to hostility and children sadly being affected.

It is not a good idea to leave your plans and arrangements to the last minute as this can cause chaos. It is also a child’s right to spend quality time with both parents who love them. Below are some brief guidelines on how to approach this sensitive area with the other parent.

Communicate

– Try to communicate by putting aside your issues to try and focus for the best interests of your children. This will make planning how to arrange time easier.

Communication is often the hardest part as emotions are running high if the separation is recent. Some parents can speak face to face, for others this is extremely difficult, and, in those circumstances,  you should use written communication for example by email which addresses the child arrangements.

If there is a Court Order (Non-Molestation Order)  preventing you from contacting the other party then do not communicate as you are forbidden to do so but the court, in that circumstance you should consult a Family Lawyer to address the issues on your behalf.

Plan

– The sooner you start to plan the better it is. This shows transparency and clear intentions from the outset by both parties.  There is lots of festive activities on at this time and a lot going on with children in schools  it is therefore essential that early planning is undertaken.

Ensure your children’s best interests come first

– It is very difficult to try and reach a schedule which suits all but let us not forget who we are doing the timetabling for, try to ask your children about their wishes and feelings first or consider what is best for them.

Compromise/Be Flexible

– Life would be easy if we all got what we wanted; however, we do make comprises in life, it is sometimes impossible to reach an agreement without there being any degree of flexibility by one or all the parties involved. Each party will want to spend the maximum amount of time with their child/children .

Handover

– Be clear in your communication and write down the dates, times and location, drop off point, collection point so that there is no avoidance of doubt for either party to later complain or disagree.

Stick to the Arrangements

–  If you have agreed arrangements then it is important that you try to  respect the plan and follow it through. Chopping and changing arrangements will not provide stability for your children. If you successfully do this, it shows the other parent that you respect the time they spend with the children, this most certainly helps the relationship in the future.

Steps to Take when Contact is not Agreed

  • Consult a Family Lawyer of your own choosing. There are many lawyers in the market, choose someone you feel comfortable with, a person you feel you can talk to openly and ask any questions to without feeling awkward. Your chosen lawyer will provide you with advice and guidance on how to reach an agreement with the other parent. Often it can be the case that direct communication is not working and therefore a solicitor’s letter is sent to the other parent regarding the issues and in an effort to reach an agreement.
  • In situations where it is not possible to reach an agreement, your lawyer will  be able to refer you to your local mediation service to see if there is any possibility of an agreement being reached with the help of an independent mediator.
  • The last re-course is court proceedings if all other routes of reaching an agreement have failed. You must allow enough time to try negotiating with the other parent via solicitor’s correspondence or mediation before your matter becomes suitable for court. The court impresses on all parties that you should try to resolve matters via agreement before asking for the court’s intervention. If mediation fails, then you will be able to apply to the court. It is essential to start planning the arrangements for Christmas because if no agreement is reached it does take a considerable amount of time for the application to be issued and heard in court.

Family Law Advice

You may contact Sutton & Co Solicitors regarding your issues relating to your children. They provide a caring and compassionate service which is tailored to your needs. Whether you need a letter sending to the other parent/or you need to be referred to mediation/ or you need help with making an application to court, Sutton & Co Solicitors provide you with transparent advice from the outset and will guide you on how to proceed so that you can put in place the right steps to play an active role in your children’s life.

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