For separated families, Christmas can highlight many emotions regarding how children spend their time, especially if it early days in the separation or if children are particularly young.  Christmas celebrations have a huge significance of “family” and this is made so much more difficult when parents are separated.

During the holiday period we look to forge, renew or strengthen the family ties that we value the most. For families of divorced parents, deciding how children will spend their time over Christmas can be particularly difficult and challenging.

All too often, it is a time when emotions are heightened and parties struggle to negotiate outcomes themselves so are forced to engage a family law solicitor, mediator or worse file in the Federal Circuit Court in order to negotiate where and when children will be, and with whom.

 But does Christmas have to be a difficult time for a divorced family? Here are five tips that may ease the tension this Christmas:

  1. Plan early – Plan the arrangements for the Christmas holiday as early as possible, earlier in the year, the easier it will be plus it gives the parties time to resolve any disputes. Stress about how Children spend time at Christmas only increases the closer the 25th of December is. If agreement cannot be reached, involving a mediator or a family lawyer can help you to negotiate an outcome and give you and your children certainly at Christmas.
  2. Put your children first – The Christmas season is centred on children, it is all about them. So focus on them. Ask yourself what you can do to ensure the holidays are happy for them in a way that they are not in the centre of a dispute. There are many Christmas traditions that can be shared and also at times, you will need to be flexible and possibly change the day that you carry out your traditions. Just because Christmas day is not celebrated on the 25th does not mean that it can’t be a full on Christmas day.
  3. Allow your  children to share their time over the Christmas period – Christmas is a time when families can focus on what unites them and bring them closer together.  Unless parents live cities apart, there is no reason why children cannot spend time with both parents over the Christmas holiday period.
  4. Allow children remain in contact with both parents and their extended family – When it isn’t possible for one parent to be with the children  for whatever reason, let them call that parent to say “Happy Christmas”. Extended family such as Grandparents, Uncles and Aunts are also an integral part of a child’s life and provide continuity and security in the face of the changed family structure. Remember it takes a village.
  5. Be flexible – As a separated parent there may be times during your child’s life that you don’t get to spend Christmas morning with them or possibly the whole day depending on your families circumstances. Be flexible and celebrate on a different day, let Santa come twice! The kids think that it is amazing! Be flexible at times and give your child the gift of love and time with their other parent. Make your children’s life easy, after all Christmas is all about them.