Making Preparations for Children for the Christmas Period

With Christmas just around the corner, this can sadly be an upsetting and challenging time for separated parents who may be about to spend their first Christmas away from their children.

For parents who have separated for a long time, hopefully they will have agreed and have in place long term arrangements. Often parents will agree to alternate the Christmas holidays by either alternating Christmas Eve and present opening and splitting the day or alternatively having Christmas Eve until Boxing Day which can cause less disruption.

For newly separated parents, discussion about Christmas Arrangements should have started. Last minute disagreements can add to the stress of Christmas holidays, as we all know with the financial pressures it brings and spending extended time often with other family members that we often don’t see throughout the year, it can add further unnecessary stress.

We would always recommend newly separated parents attend either a separated parents programme to learn how to co-parent on separation, limiting animosity or working together on a parental plan at the start of the separation. This can also help iron out any issues regarding contact arrangements and how to deal with disagreements.

You can also discuss how matters will be funded. The financial pressures of being a single parent and the lost income from a former spouse or partner can be hard. Budgeting in future years so the cost is spread out over the year is really helpful.

Cafcass has a useful parenting plan that you can be accessed online here, allowing you to work on this together.

What happens if you can’t reach agreement regarding Christmas Child Arrangements?

In the worst-case scenario, you can consider a referral to a family mediator for them to assist you in discussing arrangements and helping you to reach an agreement in the best interests of the child(ren). Sometimes, people then invite the courts to make any agreement reached into a Child Arrangement Order by mutual agreement. By setting out an Order, this means that the arrangements are binding upon both parents but the Courts do have a principle of no order being made for children unless it is absolutely necessary. This is to try to encourage separated parents to reach amicable agreement which will have a better chance of working over the coming years.

In the event that no agreement can be reached, one of the Price Slater Gawne specialist Family Law solicitors can assist you in making an application to the court. Whilst this is the case, urgent hearing about arrangements are only heard by the Court when there are safeguarding issues. It is unlikely that disagreements about Christmas holidays would fall into this category. Our Family specialists can however offer advice and try to assist in reaching agreement on your behalf.

The key to setting out arrangements and discussing funding the additional costs of Christmas is to start any discussion as early as possible. If you haven’t done so already, the time to start is now.

Our specialist Family solicitors: Nicholas Clough and Ainsley Pritchard are here to help. They can assist with both mediation and setting out arrangements independently. If you would like to speak to a member of the team they can be contacted by telephone to 0161 615 5554, by email to or via our live chat facility at