Lancashire Times
A Voice of the North
Lisa Russell
Legal Features Writer
12:16 PM 9th December 2020

Tips For Separated Parents On Children Arrangements At Christmas

In today’s extraordinary climate, many estranged parents have extra concerns and questions about the arrangements for their children during the festive period due to the Government’s Covid-19 restrictions.

In what can in normal circumstances be a difficult and emotional time of year, separated parents are also having to navigate further rules which will influence how families can spend time together during the holiday period.

From 2nd December 2020 a tier system allows people to form “bubbles” of three households between 23rd and 27th December 2020. As with the earlier lockdown, children under the age of 18 can move between the homes of separated partners and their respective “Christmas Bubbles”.

Here are our tips for managing your arrangements:

Plan Now - the earlier communications begin the better. Discussing the arrangements for Christmas early will allow time for consideration of each other’s expectations and plans and, importantly, compromise if there is no immediate agreement.

Remain Child-Focused - Like all children, mine have also experienced an extremely unusual and unsettling year. Unable to attend their normal nursery, school, alternative child care provision and extracurricular activities; they have also been prevented from socialising with peers, family members and enjoying the freedoms and experiences which childhood should bring.

Most children will no doubt have experienced confusion, worry and anxiety at one time or another during this pandemic. Listen to your children’s views.

It is important to remember that Christmas celebrations do not have to take place on Christmas Day to be special and exciting for our children. The magic of Christmas can happen twice!

Now, more than ever, your children need to feel secure and loved and not bear responsibility for choosing between their parents and, in turn, their wider families.

Keep up to Date with & Remember the Rules - There are only 5 days (23rd-27th December) when your children may have an opportunity to see their wider families which could include siblings, cousins, grandparents and other extended family members. It is therefore important to think flexibly and acknowledge that arrangements which worked previously may not this year for a number of reasons including the ‘normal’ division of time may not allow for both parents to spend time with the children during this particular 5 day window and the distance between homes.

For families where a separated parent wishes to travel abroad with children there are additional considerations. The parent will need to ensure that all Covid-19 rules and precautions are followed including the need for quarantine and regarding any risk factors at the intended destination. The consent of the other parent who has Parental Responsibility must be obtained. If it is not given an Order from the Court granting permission to travel with the children is required. Bear in mind the Court system is currently under considerable pressure and it may not be possible for an immediate hearing - therefore the earlier the agreement or disagreement is established the better.

Have a Plan B - agree a contingency plan to avoid anxiety and disagreement at the last minute if original plans are not possible.

Seek Legal Advice - if you require legal advice in respect of the arrangements for your children during the festive period or otherwise contact a family lawyer. We offer 30 minute free consultations by telephone or video call.

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