With Christmas in sight, it is crucial for those who co-parent with a former partner to agree the festive childcare arrangements as far in advance as possible, to avoid disappointment and upset, not just to them but also to the children.

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

Leaving it to the last minute may mean that a solution cannot be reached in time, as it won’t be possible to take it back to court if steps are taken only a few weeks before.

Even if there is a prior agreement it is sensible, and certainly courteous, for parents to reconfirm the arrangements a few weeks before just to ensure that all is fine, and again to avoid disappointment on the day.

However, if the arrangements have been disrupted again because of an ex-partner, perhaps it could be left 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 you are not facing the same position the following year.

If an agreement doesn’t work, then there’s the option of seeking advice from a specialist family law solicitor. With their help, the court can be approached for an order which would ensure clarity and, most importantly, stability in the arrangements for the 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.

A Child Arrangement Order will set out exactly when the children should spend time with which party, together with details as to the length of stays and arrangements for contact.

Such orders can include detailed arrangements for holiday contact – including Christmas arrangements – meaning that this time next year, a difficult and emotionally draining situation can be avoided.

Whatever the 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.

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