The festive period can be a time of great stress for separated parents and the children of divorced parents. Both parents will want to spend time with their children over the Christmas period, and the child or children will want to see them just as much. Working out who gets care over children at Christmas can be difficult, and in this article, Dodds Solicitors are going to look at the ways it can be done.


For most parents, the first step in arranging child care over Christmas is to try and organise it between themselves. This is not always possible, though, due to the nature of some relationships between separated parents or difficulties in contacting one another. If you find it difficult to enter into conversation with your ex-partner, mediation may be a successful alternative.

When using a mediator, discussions between parents will be channelled between a neutral third party. Each person will be able to discuss their needs with a mediator separately, before joining with the other party in a room where a conversation can take place in a more productive manner. In the initial, separate discussions, each party will disclose what they are hoping to gain from the session – this will help the mediator determine whether or not mediation is right for them.

The ideal outcome from mediation is calm, constructive and productive talks that end with a clear child arrangement being agreed on by both parties.

Children Act Orders

If mediation fails, and you cannot come to an agreement with your spouse, then another step is to go to the Courts. When a parent makes an application to the Court for care of children over Christmas, the Court will base their decision around the welfare checklist in the Children Act 1989. You can find the welfare checklist here.

Ultimately, the decision is made according to what the Court thinks is best for the children in question. It is important that any application to the Court is made ahead of time – the Courts will not always prioritise Christmas arrangements, disputes, and as such you may face a nervous wait if you do not apply in good time. It is rare that a parent is awarded care of their children for every Christmas – alternating years are a common resolution.

Alternate Days

Alternating care over the Christmas period can be a suitable method for separated parents. For example, the children may stay over at one parent’s house on Christmas Eve so they can wake up and open presents, see family and enjoy dinner on Christmas Day, before the other parent picks them up and the festivities continue on Boxing Day.

Alternate Years

As opposed to alternating care over the Christmas period, another option is for parents to have care of their children every other Christmas. This is preferable for parents who are amenable to spending Christmas apart from their children – it allows the children to experience the full festive period in one place each year.

Child arrangements can be a delicate situation, and it can be difficult to come to an agreement when it comes to seeing your children. At Dodds Solicitors, we are experienced in a wide range of family services, including children’s arrangements. Our service is both effective and empathetic, tailored to meet the needs of each of our clients. For more information, please get in touch with us today on 0116 262 8596.

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