Christmas is traditionally seen as a time for families. As most parents know only too well, it can bring plenty of challenges too. There is always so much to do, and there can be stresses and strains as you try to ensure that your children have a great time.
But for divorced and separated parents Christmas can require particularly careful planning. This is the advice we have from family law organisation Resolution, which represents family lawyers in Yorkshire and works to make sure the needs of children come first when families breakdown.
After all, how many children want to end up with two servings of sprouts? More seriously, Mum, Dad and the children can find themselves feeling confused, disappointed and frustrated during the festive season.
Here are Resolution’s five tips for divorced and separated parents this Christmas:
- Put your children’s needs and feelings first. Discuss arrangements with the other parent and try to share both the pleasure and the responsibilities.
- Let the children know that even though things will be different, Christmas can still be special. Work together with your children to create new Christmas traditions in each home.
- Think long-term and stay flexible. You may want to be with the kids on Christmas Day but there will be other Christmases. It may be fairest to agree to alternate which household the children are at from one year to the next.
- Don’t compete with your ex over presents for the children. Instead, discuss what presents to buy so that you don’t duplicate. Consider whether it would be helpful to continue the tradition of a joint present from both of you. And allow your children to decide where they will keep their gifts.
- Ask for help if you need it and make sure to use the wealth of resources designed to help separated parents manage. Find out more at http://www.resolution.org.uk/advice_for_parents/
For those parents going through a divorce or separation Christmas can be a particularly tough time. However, there are several options for separating couples that don’t require them to go to court.
If you are thinking of divorcing or separating you can speak to a Resolution member and discuss your situation, working out what will be best for you and your family.
Resolution members will also be able to advise if you are eligible for legal aid or publicly funded mediation – although do be aware that legal aid will no longer be available for many divorce cases from 1 April 2013.
Resolution’s 6500 members are family lawyers committed to the constructive resolution of family disputes. The names of local members can be found online at www.resolution.org.uk or by calling 01689 820272. Resolution has also launched a helpful guide entitled Separating Together – Your options for separation and divorce which you can view online by visiting www.resolution.org.uk/separatingtogether