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Insights // 20 December 2019

Separated Parents – A Guide to Surviving the Christmas Period

Solicitor Catherine Currie, in our leading Family law team, provides tips for separated couples with children during the Christmas period.

The Christmas lights are up, most people have done their Christmas shopping, people are merry and the majority of the television adverts are portraying happy and cosy images of families coming together to enjoy the festivities.  For a lot of people, Christmas really is ‘The Most Wonderful Time of the Year’.  However, for others, including separated parents and their families, Christmas can mean something very different.  Many people are filled with dread at the extra strain brought on by trying to agree child arrangements with the other parent, the worry of changing family traditions and the stress of still trying to make sure the magic of Christmas is kept alive.

Here are some tips which we consider may be useful to try and assist separated parents with Christmas:

  • Focus on the children when making arrangements with your former partner around the festive period and Christmas day arrangements. Compromise and planning go a long way here.  Think about the age of the children, they may be old enough to decide how they would like to spend the holiday.  Also think about what sharing Christmas might look like practically and how the children will be dropped off/picked up. Some families still choose to spend Christmas day together after separation so this may be an option too.
  • Be positive about the children spending time with the other parent if they will not be with you for Christmas this year. Children pick up on hostility expressed by one parent towards the other and they should not be made to feel guilty about spending time with one parent and not the other.
  • Don’t try and organise too much. Children pick up on stress and hectic schedules can impact on everybody’s enjoyment of this time of year.
  • Don’t make things a competition with the other parent. If possible, try and co-ordinate present giving to lessen the chance of added conflict between you which the children are likely to pick up on.
  • If the children are not with you on Christmas day, can you spend time with extended family or friends? Or even look to indulge yourself on a day out or undertake some volunteer work. Perhaps try and have an alternative Christmas day with the children so that you can still enjoy the Christmas celebrations together.
  • Old traditions don’t necessarily need to end – and you can always make new ones. Particular as children grow up, they may enjoy suggesting new traditions that they would like incorporated.
  • Set realistic expectations. What works this year, may not work next year. 
  • Try and enjoy the day/period whatever you’re doing! The children will be happy if they know you’re happy.

For further information or legal advice, please contact or call 0118 951 6800. 

This article is intended for the use of clients and other interested parties. The information contained in it is believed to be correct at the date of publication, but it is necessarily of a brief and general nature and should not be relied upon as a substitute for specific professional advice. A similar article was first published in Waste Planning Magazine.

Catherine Currie

Catherine Currie

Associate Solicitor, Family Law

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