With the festive period fast approaching, we are now receiving queries regarding issues arising over child arrangements for the Christmas period.

For most, Christmas is about spending time with loved ones. Unfortunately, many separated parents experience difficulties - particularly during the festive period - when it comes to determining the arrangements for the children. It is natural for both parents to wish to spend as much time as possible with the children over Christmas but parents must work together to avoid unnecessary conflict. As children grow, they become more receptive to their surroundings and it is, therefore, important that parents do cooperate with one another. 

When considering child arrangements for the Christmas period, parents may wish to follow the below guide to ensure that the festive season runs smoothly: 

Communicate with one another

Communication is key to resolving any dispute. Communicating openly and effectively allows each parent to set out their proposals clearly. If the relationship between the parents has broken down to an extent that the parents do not feel they can communicate face-to-face, parents may wish to attempt indirect forms of communication such as text message or email. There are also useful co-parenting apps which can help separated parents communicate effectively with one another.  

Either way, parents should focus solely on the issues of child arrangements and avoid provoking any unnecessary arguments which are not conducive to reaching an arrangement; 

Child arrangements over the festive period

Reach an agreement in advance

As with most aspects of life, planning is crucial. Christmas is a very busy time for families, often filled with family visits, trips to Santa and other festivities. Agreeing on child arrangements in advance of the festive period allows time for any potential disputes between the parents to be resolved at an early stage. Early agreement allows parents the flexibility to make their respective holiday plans with the children and avoids potential disappointment on both sides.

Child arrangements over the festive period

Wishes and feelings of the children

It is important to consider the views of the children, particularly those who are in their teens, when determining child arrangements. The best interests of the children should always be the top priority when determining arrangements and listening to the children can help gain an understanding of their own position. This is not to say that the children should have the final word on the matter, rather their feelings should be considered in the decision-making process; 


When trying to reach an agreement, parents should afford one another a degree of compromise. Reaching an agreement is far easier where parties are able to offer some form of flexibility to their proposals. Compromise helps to build an effective relationship between parents and it is likely that this compromise will be reciprocated by the other parent in future;  

Be creative with contact

One benefit of the pandemic is that it has encouraged all age groups to familiarise themselves with technology such as Facetime, Microsoft Teams and Zoom. This use of technology can be useful in scenarios where one parent is unavailable for contact for whatever reason, such as if they are working away or due to illness, and it may then be appropriate for the absent parent to engage with the children on a video call. A video call, rather than a telephone call, is likely to provide a better experience for both parent and child as it allows a higher and more meaningful interaction.  

This can also be helpful specifically when negotiating the arrangements for Christmas. For example, if it can be agreed for one parent to have the children on Christmas Day, it may with the condition that the absent parent is given the opportunity to engage with the children via video call.  


In the event that parents have exhausted all of the above and an agreement has not been reached, parents may wish to consider attending a local mediator to attempt to resolve the issues in dispute. If this fails, it may then be that the parents require court intervention and an application for a Child Arrangements Order is made.  Parents should, however, be aware that issues such as Christmas disputes will not be prioritised by the court and it may well be that the case is not listed to be heard until 2023.  There is, of course, also the risk that a judge may make arrangements that are not expected or wished for.   

Co-operation, planning and compromise do work and for children, that is very much in their best interests as it can then be seen that their parents are able to work together and put the children first. 

How can we help?

Ensuring that your children are well looked after is one of the main priorities particularly when separating from the other parent. We understand that it can sometimes be difficult to reach agreement and we deal with these issues sensitively, seeking to reduce upset and acrimony whilst making sure that the children’s welfare always remains the focus and priority.

If you require any more information, or would like to speak to a member of our family team, contact us today on 01740 646000 or fill in an online enquiry form and someone will be in touch.

Call: 01740 646000
How can we help?