A Guide To Creative Christmas Plans For Divorced Parents
Christmas is synonymous with families, so what happens when yours has been subject to divorce this year? Simple. You need to get creative. With the rise in divorce applications since the introduction of no-fault divorce in April 2022, more people are facing Christmas as single parents. This leaves them with the question of how plans for children will be managed. Here are some useful pointers on how you can make your plans work for you and your children this year.
Rotate Christmas Day
Breaking up Christmas Day into two halves means children must cut short their time with both parents. Typically, they will want to stay in one place making rotating Christmas Day a good option. This means one parent has the children one year, and the other parent the next. It also means you can rotate Boxing Day or maybe New Years’ Eve as well. Some children will not want to spend the full day with one parent each year, so it’s important to put their needs first and not make it a competition about ‘who has the children’. Whether it’s Christmas time or not, divorces mean compromise is key. Negotiating child arrangements through the courts is costly, time-consuming and can put stress on the whole family.
Decide on arrangements each year
Life can bring up all kinds of different issues. Perhaps a family is poorly, someone got married or is getting married close to Christmas or one of the parents has moved somewhere new with work. All these things can have an impact on your festive plans for the kids. It therefore makes sense for some divorced couples to decide closer to the time what happens. It’s advisable to get ahead of the game early though by deciding in October or November at least what is going to happen. The later you leave it the more stressful it can be to plan, and this stress can impact the kids too. The lack of consistency can impact children so make sure they know roughly what is happening.
Have a blended Christmas
Although many divorced couples experience difficult separations, not all do. An amicable divorce makes things much easier for children involved. Perhaps one parent will be welcomed for a meal on Christmas Day, or in the morning to enjoy present-opening. Or one parent may visit the children on Christmas Eve for a few hours to put food out for the reindeers. Seeing their parents cooperating is good for children at any age and gives them a good moral compass for their own future.
Use mediation or speak to a family law specialist
If you have found communicating with your ex-spouse difficult ahead of the holiday season and you have not been able to finalise plans, it could be time to consider family mediation. Mediation sessions are overseen by an independent mediator who will help you and your partner work together to agree on matters including childcare plans. Mediation is a voluntary process where both parties must agree to attend, and both pay fees. It is not for everyone, and some people opt for speaking directly to a family lawyer to find out their rights and options.
The guiding principle when creating Christmas plans for your children as a divorced couple is to stay focussed on what they need and want. Remember to be as flexible as you can about plans if it benefits the children. While you want to make sure you are happy with the plans, being thoughtful towards the other party reduces potential conflict, and paves the way for a happier Christmas for everyone.