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What Can I Do to Avoid Christmas Contact Chaos?

Whether you are like Elf or The Grinch around Christmas time, putting your decorations up as soon as possible or the last possible moment, when you are separated from your child(ren)’s parent, Christmas can be very difficult time of the year.


What is important is to remember Christmas is not only, for many families, about spending time together either as a smaller family unit or with wider family, but it is also your child(ren)’s special time. They will be looking forward to spending time with their friends, family, parents, siblings and having some much-needed relaxing time away from school. Involving your child(ren) in Christmas arrangements gives them a voice and that they have a say on their Christmas period.


Here are a few tips to consider:

  • Would your child(ren) like to spend time on Christmas Day with everyone who is important to them or prefer to spend longer with each of these people across the whole festive period?
  • Has your child(ren) expressed they do not want to travel on Christmas Day or they would prefer to spend time with a specific family due to their traditions?
  • How practical is it to transport your child(ren) between homes on Christmas Day itself? Should these transport arrangements be shared?
  • Is Boxing Day, New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day particularly important in your family? Perhaps your child(ren) could spend one of these days with the parent that they do not see on Christmas Day.
  • What other commitments does your child(ren) have over Christmas which need to be taken into account?
  • Don’t forget to look at the school holidays as a whole.
  • And don’t leave it to the last minute to make the arrangements; nobody wants to be waiting for a last-minute phone call from the other parent or even a solicitor before they make plans.


It is important to remember that it is what is best for your child(ren) that matters. Most children, whatever their ages really enjoy having two Christmases, two trees, two Christmas dinners and of course two sets of presents (as Father Christmas knows your children have two homes and he can do special trips to other houses even on Boxing Day!). Christmas is all about spending quality time with family and friends and both sets of families should be considered as well as other siblings including stepsiblings.

Your starting point should always be to try and reach an agreement between yourselves.  This is easier if it is in writing, (including a text or WhatsApp) containing all the practical details so there cannot be any confusion leading to upset on the day, of course we can all forget the time at times as well.


It is important to try and plan arrangements for your child(ren)’s Christmas as soon as possible to avoid any last minute stress and so that your child(ren) know what the arrangements are and can start the countdown rather than being anxious about when they will see their family. If you are not receiving any communication from the other parent, or they will not agree a certain arrangement, firstly, it is important to remain calm and composed, getting upset, angry and firing off that message or saying what you think it not going to help the situation and may in fact cause issues in the long term for your co-parenting relationship.

It may be worth speaking to them face-to-face (where this is possible), and have a conversation with them when your child(ren) are not around, and explain why you had suggested the arrangements you had.


We know that Christmas can be a logistical nightmare with parents, siblings and extended family members all hoping to see each other as well as complicated plans to make for transporting the children or even when to eat Christmas lunch.  Remember that there is no such thing as “normal arrangements” though and what is right for your child(ren) depends on them as individuals and the whole family.


If you cannot reach an agreement, and you cannot agree to a compromise, and you have either tried to discuss this directly together or it is not possible, we would be happy to speak to you. Please get in touch with our family department for specialist legal advice as soon as possible with our Family Law team on 01255 320 555 or email: mail@clarkeandson.co.uk.


Jennifer Lee


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