2020 has been an incredibly difficult year for separated couples. The unprecedented circumstances brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic have no doubt taken their toll and, for separated couples with children, making arrangements that fulfil the whole family’s needs has not always been possible.
This issue is likely to be exacerbated during the Christmas period. For newly separated parents spending their first Christmas apart, working out exactly what the festive season will look like and how to plan celebrations that work for them, their children and the wider family may be a challenge.
While parents who live in different households are exempt from social distancing rules, this does not apply to the wider family, such as grandparents, aunts and uncles. With the government having now said that up to three households can be together for Christmas, families all over the country will be making plans for exactly what this means for them.
With that in mind, here are some tips to keep in mind to help you get through the Christmas period post-separation.
Make arrangements well ahead of time
Even under normal circumstances, putting together a well-thought-out plan with your former partner in advance is key at Christmas. It is sensible to put together a list of dates and times so that you both know exactly what is going to happen and when.
It will be important to keep track of current events so that you both understand what COVID restrictions are likely to be in place when Christmas rolls around. For example, if you live in different parts of the country, you may be living under different ‘tier’ systems, which means what you’ll both be allowed to do will vary.
If everything is thought out and preparations are made for every possible scenario, then you will be both be well prepared for what the Christmas period is likely to throw at you. The arrangements you make will be personal, so the earlier you start communicating with your former partner, the better.
Stick to the plan where possible
Plans do change and, this year, the uncertainty caused by COVID-19 will call for some flexibility. However, wherever it is possible to do so, you and your former partner should stick to the original plan you set out.
Last-minute changes or unexpected appearances are only likely to cause unwanted disruption, so it is best to follow your plan as closely as possible.
Be fair to the other parent
When making your plans, you will need to take the needs of your former partner into consideration. It’s inevitable that some compromises will be required so that both of your needs are fulfilled – especially when it comes to spending time with your children.
Neither of you will want to spend any time away from your children, so try to think about what impact your plans could have and make sure you communicate everything clearly so there is no confusion. The last thing you will want is for there to be a heated argument at Christmas!
Keep your children at the heart of your decisions
If you have children with your former partner, then they should always be at the centre of your decisions. Make sure that you share your plans with your children so that they know what is going to happen at Christmas and ask them what they would feel comfortable doing. That’s especially important for older children, who will need to feel as though they have a voice.
Christmas is likely to be incredibly difficult for children if their parents are separated, so making everything as straightforward as possible will mean that they can truly enjoy themselves.
Get legal advice
If you are finding it difficult to make arrangements with your former partner and you feel as though your parental rights are being neglected, it is sensible to seek out legal advice from a family law solicitor.
By consulting a family law solicitor, you can clarify exactly what your rights are and whether the COVID-19 rules that are in place during the Christmas period are likely to have an effect on your ability to spend time with your children.
Consult our family law solicitors in Bournemouth
At Preston Redman, our family law team have extensive expertise in divorce and separation matters. We can work alongside you to find solutions that are in the best interests of your children, while also making sure your rights as a parent are respected.
Wherever possible, we promote the non-combative resolution of family law matters, using methods of Alternative Dispute Resolution such as mediation to help you come to an amicable agreement with your former partner.