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Christmas is coming – are the arrangements for the children in place?

Family law advice children

As the days shorten and the children have returned to school following the long summer holidays it will not be long before Christmas is on the horizon and everyone’s thoughts turn to the festive season.

Whilst Christmas is a special time for children it can pose challenges from a childcare perspective where the parents are separated or divorced.

Many separated parents are able to work out the arrangements in respect of their children to cover both term time and holidays without the need for intervention from solicitors or indeed the courts.  However, for families where this is not possible it can prove difficult to put in place the arrangements to ensure that the children spend a reasonable time with each parent.

The Christmas holiday is often the most contentious holiday when it comes to sorting out where the children will stay.

It is important to ensure that if there is disagreement between parents as to the arrangements in respect of the Christmas holidays that steps are taken early to ensure that if court proceedings are required that there is sufficient time to deal with the case.

In situations where the only issue in dispute is the arrangements for a particular holiday, whether that is a summer holiday or the Christmas holiday, then the court can deal with such issues in isolation.  Such orders made by the court in these circumstances are called Specific Issue Orders. The court can make Specific Issue Orders in relation to a wide range of situations involving children and not just about holidays but such issues as schooling, change of name, religion and medical care.

The timescales involved in successfully issuing an application to court are such that it is prudent to seek to agree the arrangements for the Christmas period in good time to allow sufficient time for the court to deal with the issue if need be.

Therefore, it is a good idea for parents to give this some thought now and to put forward proposals for the arrangements in relation to their children include the Christmas and the festive period.

If the disagreement between parents relates to more than just one specific issue then it might be that an application to court for a Child Arrangements Order is required. It is a requirement, however, for anyone considering involving the courts to resolve the arrangements for the children to have first investigated the possibility of attending mediation.  In those cases where mediation is not successful or is inappropriate then the court will deal with the arrangements for the children if their parents cannot agree them.

There is no “one size fits all” approach to a child arrangements order and each case is determined by the particular circumstances and from a starting point of investigating what is in the best interests of the children.

If you wish to discuss child law or any family law related issue please call Maguire Family Law  on +44 (1) 1625 544650 or email:

For specialist advice on any family law related issue contact Maguire Family Law by email: or telephone:

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