Christmas Holidays & Separated Parents


Organising Christmas is difficult enough when you’re living happily together.  It can be so much more difficult when you are apart and have to sort out where the children will be over the holiday.  It's not simply out whether they’re with mum or dad on Christmas Day, or when and how they are going to travel between them.  Wider family members: grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles all need to be taken into account.  Then of course, most importantly, there’s what the children want and how they will cope with all the moving around and consequential tensions.

Fortunately, most parents are able to agree on arrangements which work reasonably well, whether they involve alternating Christmases, spending Christmas Day in one and Boxing Day in the other home or even moving midway through the day.  The best arrangements are generally worked out well in advance when parents meet and talk together and adopt a give and take attitude.  Where meeting up is difficult some parents find it helpful to exchange lists of dates and availability by email, but it’s their willingness to be flexible and compromise which leads to a happy outcome.

However communication sometimes breaks down completely, and parents end up spending the weeks before Christmas arguing through solicitors or making urgent and expensive applications to the Court.  Not a good way to prepare for Christmas!

Family mediation offers parents who find communication difficult, a way or sorting out holiday arrangements amicably, avoiding the bitterness and expense that can so easily arise, and concentrating on making Christmas a really good time for their children and all the family.  Mediation services offer an initial individual meeting at which you can find out how the process works.  After seeing both parents separately the mediator will arrange to meet the parents together, over one or more sessions, and help them make arrangements which will work for their children and for the whole family.   Mediation provides a cheaper option and for those financially eligible, legal aid is still available from mediation services which are contracted to the Legal Aid Agency.

Nicholas von Benzon - Director Cheltenham Mediation Services Limited