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Christmas is often described as the ‘best time of the year’, a ‘joyous occasion’. But for many separated parents it is a time of anxiety and worry when it comes to sorting out the child arrangements. For those parents it can be a period of dread having to argue over how much time they can spend with their children.

Unfortunately, there is no secret formula or rule book as to how separated parents should navigate their way around child arrangements at Christmas, however, remembering the “three C’s”, might make it easier: 

Children Come First

When a relationship between parents is strained, often parents will put their feelings above those of their children’s. In most cases, parents will not consider what the children want, therefore, if you are unsure, make time to discuss them.

Think about practicalities, especially if both parents live far apart. No one wants to spend house travelling on Christmas day-especially children!


We understand it can be hard to communicate with someone who you have a negative relationship with but often in these circumstances, communicating can often save a lot of unnecessary stress. 

Technology has made life easier and there are many apps to allow separated parents to communicate effectively such as the Talking Parents App, which comes highly recommended by the Family Courts as an effective communication tool. The app encourages parents to co-parent more effectively as everyone can access diaries and plan accordingly as well as discouraging hostile language.  This is a particularly useful  where  there is a history of abuse or aggression when communicating with your ex-partner.

Often, it is better to have these conversations sooner rather than later to prevent arguments occurring when the stress of Christmas starts to build up.

If communication cannot be established, a third party such as a mediator can be very effective in providing a safe space to allow parents to communicate and express themselves fully. Which could then lead to an amicable settlement. Reassure the children that you understand that they might not be able to see both parents on Christmas day but that both parents will make the time they do spend with them, special.

Children do not want to be involved or surrounded by arguments and despite the children not seeing the messages or hearing the conversations, they can pick up on the tension and the worries of a parent.  Therefore, it is vital to remember that communication is going to be key and having some communication is better than none.


With good communication often comes good compromise. Compromise is vital in sorting out child arrangements in all family set ups. We all have different lives, which means there must always be some room for compromise. In some cases, this can be to do with travel circumstances or work commitments. Each parent must understand that it’s vital to keep the channels of communication and compromise open as it is beneficial for everyone involved. If one parent cannot travel miles and miles on Christmas Day due to work or travel issues, this is not an issue for argument, but where a little compassion and compromise can go a long way in reaching an amicable decision which is in the best interests of the children.

For further information in relation to arrangements for the Christmas, please feel free to contact one of our experienced family solicitors or mediators on 0113 3229222 or email us on