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Where will the children spend Christmas?

Children opening presents at Christmas

For me, the 1st December marks the start of making plans for Christmas.  I am much less organised than these superior beings who start their Christmas shopping with the smell of bonfire lingering on their new winter coat.  However, I want December to be about finalising festive lists, brainstorming ideas for my nemesis, Elf on the Shelf, and to start thinking about spending time with loved ones. 

At work, my phone starts to ring and the emails begin to clog up my inbox.  I am a Family Law Solicitor and the burning question at this time of year appears to be; where will the children spend Christmas Day?  For separated parents this issue can often dominate the festive season.

So how do you agree on arrangements for children during Christmas? I have a few tips for you to consider:-

Put the children first

A traditional family Christmas might no longer be possible but it can still be wonderful with the right mind set. Children just want to feel safe and happy and, for them, two Christmas Days and two sets of presents can be magical and exciting.  If they know their parents are content with the plans, it can make all the difference to a new experience.  Older children can be involved in the arrangements too and will feel grateful if their views are taken seriously.

Preparation is key

Now is the time to start talking to your ex-partner and agree on arrangements that work for you.  You could even try and agree next year too. Sometimes, it can be that the children will spend Christmas Eve at one home and then return to the other for lunch on Christmas Day.  This can be alternated each year. Every family is different but having an open mind and being flexible often leads to a solution.

Stick to the arrangements

This year may require a certain level of flexibility.  However, it is important to follow through with the arrangements.  This leads to certainty for the children and builds trust.  Flexibility is important but this has to be balanced against consistency and stability.

Get legal advice if you need to

Christmas can be very busy so organising a co-parenting schedule on top of everything else is never going to be easy, especially if communication has broken down.  Therefore, if you are struggling this year, take advice from a family lawyer who can try to assist in negotiating an agreement. They can also refer you to mediation, which might help you to find common ground.

Get in touch 

If you would like any advice on child arrangements during Christmas, or other family law issues, please do contact me on 01924 291122 or email me at

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