Contact at Christmas
As the countdown to Christmas begins, most families await with anticipation the Christmas celebrations, but for many children, Christmas can become more about dispute than celebration. With less than 2 weeks to go before the big day, putting the children first is of crucial importance.
During my many years in practice, this time of year has the potential to bring out the very worst in people when endeavouring to sort out Christmas contact arrangements.
The best interests of the children are of paramount importance but the tactics employed by some separated couples demonstrate that they have their own interests at heart and not necessarily those of their children. Whilst it is understandable that parents wish to spend as much quality time with their children as possible, it is distressing for one parent to feel that they have missed out during this special time of year. An obstructive parent can cause significant damage by creating resentment and often breakdown in communication.
The Courts are very busy at this time of year as Judges are requested to adjudicate upon where children should spend Christmas. In my experience, most Judges will find a diplomatic solution so that each parent is able to spend quality time with the children.
Contact is not ‘my time’ or ‘your time’, it is the children’s time. Parents are well advised to try and take a step back from the situation and put children first. Matters such as this can be resolved out of the Court arena by way of mediation, family counselling services and Parenting Information Programmes.
If separating parents co-operate, the children are much more likely to have a happy Christmas. This is perhaps a time to put personal differences aside and work towards putting the needs of the children first.
Liz Hebden is a member of Resolution, an organisation of family lawyers committed to a non-confrontational approach to family matters. Call 01756 700200