In this article we look at whether it is possible for separated parents to see their children over Christmas and how best to go about making the arrangements.
Can children with separated parents see both parents at Christmas?
With only two weeks to go until the festive holidays the Government has yet to issue any new COVID guidance on child contact for separated parents over the Christmas period. Scientists and Government officials have recently quoted contradictory advice, with data on the new Omicron variant still under consideration.
COVID restrictions on parents from separate households
Currently, there are no limits on indoor social gatherings in England and no rules in place for those from separate households meeting.
During the last Christmas lockdown, the Government issued guidance alongside the “Staying at Home” rules which stated “Where parents or someone with parental responsibility do not live in the same household, children under 18 can be moved between their parents’ homes to continue existing arrangements for access and contact”.
If we experience another Christmas lockdown, it is likely that this guidance will be re-applied. Parents who refuse contact could be found to be in breach of a Court Order and, if found to be in breach, will be penalised accordingly.
Tips to help with arranging Christmas contact
Christmas can be a time of extreme emotions, especially for recently separated couples. We’ve put together a list of tips to consider when trying to arrange contact over the festive period.
- The children’s welfare and wishes are your top priority. Make this Christmas one they remember for the right reasons
- Keep talking! If you can’t, there are Apps readily available to help, like Our Family Wizard or The Talking Parents App
- Even if relations are strained, try to show your child or children that their parents are able to communicate well and co-parent so they have the Christmas they wish for. Any change in their routine should be presented as a positive – even if it means one parent needing to compromise a little
- Can family members help? If the situation is hostile or you can’t guarantee a positive or safe environment, you could ask a relative to help by providing a different setting to celebrate with the children. Christmas is a time for children to see their grandparents, aunts and uncles and it could provide a solution that works for both parents
- Once you’ve reached an agreement, the children should be informed of the arrangement in a positive way. Remember that any agreement can be alternated the following year
- Try to plan for things to change. With the added complications of the new Omicron variant, rules might change in the coming weeks
I haven’t got any visitation arrangements in place – what should I do?
If it hasn’t been possible to arrange contact with your children for Christmas, whether informally or through a Court Order, then our team are here to help. There are many options to consider, from mediation to Hybrid mediation, where the solicitors assist in a “round table” meeting to try to reach an agreement.
If these options are not suitable, we can guide you through the process to gain a Court Order to ensure you and your children can spend time together this Christmas.
Contact Us for Help
To find out more about Christmas contact or any other type of Family Law then our friendly, expert team are here to help. Contact us today to arrange a free 30-minute consultation with one of our Family Law specialists and find out what they can do to reduce the stress of your situation.
The Backhouse Solicitors Team
Tel: 01245 893400
Visit: 17 Duke Street, Chelmsford, Essex CM1 1JU