Sophia Mellor, head of family law at Blythe Liggins Solicitors, gives her advice on the options available if festive parenting arrangements with a former partner are becoming problematic

Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year but, for those who co-parent with a former partner, it can be fraught with anxiety around access arrangements.

Both parents will be looking forward to spending quality time with their children at this special time of year.

But, if you’re the resident parent – the one who the child or children live with most of the time – and there have been previous disputes about childcare arrangements with the non-resident parent, this can be stressful and cause you difficulty in your own arrangements. It may be, for example, that they are now stating that pre-arranged and agreed collection times no longer work for them and are requesting changes.

Faced with having to alter your own arrangements to fit in with the other parent and their requests – rather than having a discussion and your own arrangements being considered – it can be tempting to consider simply cancelling the whole thing.

However, that cannot be the right approach and you must continue to focus on your children and their wishes and feelings. They would have been looking forward to spending time with their non-resident parent and this may well be the first proper break they will enjoy with them since the summer holidays.

If the arrangements have been disrupted again because of your ex-partner, perhaps you could leave it until the new year to resolve the issue, once and for all, by entering into a proper agreement.

This would set out the arrangements for Christmas and New Year, as well as other relevant times of the year, so that next year you are not in the same position again.

If an agreement does not work, you may wish to consider seeking advice from a specialist family law solicitor. With their help, you can approach the court for an order which would ensure clarity and, most importantly, stability in the arrangements for your children.

That way, everyone will know what to expect and the children can look forward to seeing both of their parents when next Christmas arrives.

Whatever your situation, remember that Father Christmas can visit different homes in the same night or on different nights, and that it is all about the magic for your precious children.

CAPTION: Sophia Mellor, head of family law at Blythe Liggins Solicitors, Leamington Spa


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