Little one preparations throughout Christmas and COVID

As we strategy the top of what has been a really eventful yr, most of us are hoping the Authorities will loosen up lockdown guidelines so we are able to spend Christmas with household and buddies. 

Time with family members has by no means felt so vital, however, for separated mother and father, Christmas could be a time of pressure, as plans have to be agreed about the place and the way youngsters will spend the festive season.  

By no means thoughts the necessity to issue within the influence of COVID19 and, as but unknown, lockdown restrictions.

So, we requested our Regional Director for Yorkshire, Rachel Roberts, to share her recommendation on baby preparations throughout Christmas and COVID.

COVID, baby preparations and Christmas 

When Boris Johnson introduced the primary lockdown again in March, one of many issues we seen at Stowe was a pointy improve in enquiries from separated mother and father who have been struggling to agree easy methods to handle the influence of the pandemic on the present baby preparations in place. 

This improve in enquiry ranges continues as lockdown rules have become more complicated and there have been elevated intervals of self-isolation as youngsters returned to highschool.  

As we strategy Christmas, we’re seeing a flurry of shoppers getting in contact for assist to attempt to resolve preparations for the festive season. This occurs yearly, however this yr, with the influence of Covid and oldsters usually having totally different concepts round what diploma of mingling with different households is prone to be acceptable, the variety of involved mother and father making enquiries is increased than ever. 

Earlier than I flip to my tips about how finest to handle preparations, there are a few key factors from the Authorities and household regulation sector which can be definitely on the forefront of my thoughts when advising shoppers.

In September, a number one household decide made it clear that events ought to solely be bringing disputes over youngsters to court docket the place completely essential. The decide went on to criticise mother and father for asking the court docket to micro-manage youngsters preparations. 

The view from the court docket is evident – the place potential you need to be sorting these items out your self.

It’s too early to inform what lockdown restrictions will likely be in place at Christmas. Nonetheless, up to now, the Authorities has been clear that not one of the restrictions prevents youngsters from shifting between separated mother and father, supplied they aren’t self-isolating. 

It appears unlikely that this may change, and CAFCASS (the federal government physique that advises the court docket on youngsters disputes) has pressured the necessity for youngsters to keep up their traditional routine.

All that stated, it’s naive to assume that difficulties is not going to come up, and the next steering might assist keep away from unhappiness at Christmas.

Ideas for making baby preparations this Christmas 

Preparation is essential

With the added unknown of potential lockdown restrictions, attempting to place in place preparations for Christmas upfront is difficult.

If you happen to would not have plans in place now’s the time to start out. Discuss to your ex-partner and agree on preparations that give you the results you want all.

Some shoppers I’ve labored with agreed that the youngsters would spend Christmas Eve at one residence after which return to the opposite for lunch on Christmas Day by way of till the 27th.

Different shoppers determined that they might spend the entire festive interval with one father or mother and the subsequent yr spend it with the opposite, alternating between the 2.

It’s a private alternative based mostly on what works for your loved ones, but in addition the age of the youngsters, location and the way amicable you might be.

And this yr, greater than another, be ready to be versatile as plans may have to alter. 

Concentrate on the youngsters 

At the start, put the youngsters on the coronary heart of the plans you make. A special kind of Christmas can nonetheless be a very good Christmas. Discuss in regards to the optimistic: two Christmas Days, two units of presents and so forth.

Be sure you share your plans with the youngsters. Relying on the age of the youngsters, ask them what they want? Older youngsters have to really feel they’ve a voice. 

As soon as in place, sharing plans with the youngsters means they know the place they are going to be all through the vacation, and the routine will make them really feel secure and safe.

Creating a visible plan can assist as dates may be tough for a kid to know. One shopper created a Christmas themed wall planner for his or her youthful youngsters. A tech-savvy teenager might choose a joint Google calendar.

Be honest to the opposite father or mother

If that is your first yr as a separated father or mother, this may all really feel very uncooked and tough. It’s possible that you’ll each be dreading not spending Christmas totally together with your youngsters. 

Regardless that it may be tough, strive to consider the influence of any plans in your former companion. Ask your self when you could be proud of the proposed preparations subsequent yr? If the reply is not any, then perhaps they need to be reconsidered. 

Follow the plan

This yr would require a sure stage of flexibility and last-minute adjustments as lockdown restrictions will not be clear, however the place potential, it’s important that, no matter preparations you come to, you each follow the plan. 

Final-minute adjustments may cause emotions of disruption and uncertainty for youngsters. And, while flexibility is an important a part of optimistic baby preparations, it is very important preserve consistency and supply stability.

Get recommendation early, if wanted

Christmas is chaotic and organising a co-parenting schedule on high of the whole lot else is rarely going to be straightforward, particularly if communication between you and your ex-partner is tough. 

If you’re struggling this yr, take recommendation from a household lawyer who can attempt to help in negotiating an settlement. 

If you happen to can’t attain an settlement, mediation can assist because the presence of a third celebration usually eases tensions and lead to discovering frequent floor. 

Mediation remains to be happening by way of video conferencing, and lots of of our shoppers have reported that it’s simpler than being in the identical room as their former companion.

Court docket proceedings are potential however must be used as a final resort, and, because of the present pressure on courts from the pandemic, it’s extremely unlikely that you’ve any prospect of a contested listening to earlier than Christmas. 

Hopefully, the following tips, mixed with some cautious planning, compromise and placing the youngsters first,  will assist you and your ex-partner transfer ahead in the direction of a harmonious Christmas.

Get in contact 

If you want any recommendation on baby preparations throughout Christmas and COVID, or different household regulation points, please do contact our Consumer Care Group to talk to one in every of our specialist divorce lawyers here. 

This text was first printed in 2018 and has since been up to date.