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All I want for Christmas is… time with family!

Christmas is a magical time for children and adults alike and the excitement of a fast-approaching Christmas is building as we reach the end of another busy year.  With the tantalising possibility of a more “normal” Christmas on the horizon, it is inevitable that families everywhere will want to make arrangements with extended family, maximising precious time together.

At Balfour + Manson, we recognise that making arrangements for special occasions can sometimes be tricky for separated families, so how can we approach dividing up that time for the benefit of everyone?

We believe that there is no “one size fits all” rule for every family. When discussing residence arrangements, it is important to remember that there may need to be compromises on both sides to ensure your children are able to enjoy Christmas with the entire family. If you are struggling, here are three top tips which might help:

1. Prioritise the children – Christmas is primarily a time for children. Try to put aside any lingering disputes and consider what would be best for the children during the festive period. Focussing on the children provides common ground and reminds everyone of what is most important.

2. Be flexible – At this time of year there might need to be a little more flexibility to ensure children can see extended family. After the difficulties of last year, everyone will be keen to have the most enjoyable Christmas. What might be right for this Christmas may not be what has been right before, so don’t be afraid to make arrangements which are a little different than in previous years. Try viewing this as “Christmas Time” instead of a singular day and don’t forget about the additional days either side of Christmas Day itself as this can still provide fantastic family time.

3. Communicate – If possible, try to have an open conversation with the other parent about Christmas this year. If you are able to reach an agreement, write it down so there is no misunderstanding. Depending on the age and maturity of your children, you may agree to involve your children in these discussions. Giving consideration to their views is important, but remember that they should not feel pressure to “pick” one parent over the other.

Having said all of this, we entirely appreciate that reaching an agreement is not always going to be possible.  If you need some help with coming to an agreement, you may want to involve a solicitor.  Balfour + Manson are skilled at helping clients sort out contact arrangements and we understand how tricky these issues can be. We will do our best to provide practical support for you in moving matters forward and are happy to help wherever possible.