As the summer slowly draws to an end children all over the country will soon be going back at school for the new academic year. It will not be long before there is mention of Christmas being on the horizon. It might sound far too early to be mentioning Christmas but from a family law perspective, and in particular in relation to the children of separated parents, it is important to get the arrangements in place in terms of where the children will spend Christmas well in advance of the festive period.
Whilst Christmas is an exciting and happy time for most, for some families it can be a stressful and difficult time. For separated parents there can sometimes be a difference of opinion in terms of which parent should have the children to stay over Christmas. This can particularly be the case in relation to the first Christmas after separation. In an ideal world parents would agree the arrangements for all school holiday contact between themselves and without the need for family law solicitors or the courts to become involved. This, however, is not always possible and where there is no agreement the courts are often required to intervene to make decisions regarding specific issues including the arrangements for school holiday contact.
Each family’s situation is different and each case will be determined based on the particular facts involved. The courts when making orders under the Children Act 1989 will apply the “welfare checklist” and will always have the child’s best interests as the priority. The court will give consideration to the child’s wishes and feelings if the child is considered old enough with sufficient maturity and understanding. The older and more mature the child then the greater weight the court is likely to place on their wishes. In some cases, especially if the parents live close to each other, then Christmas day can be shared with the child spending half the day with each parent. Another popular solution is to alternate the arrangements so the child might spend Christmas eve and Christmas day with one parent one year and with the other parent the following year and so on.
In the run up to Christmas the family law courts can be busy dealing with such matters. Therefore, it is always good practice to try and get the arrangements in place well in advance. That way, if no agreement can be reached, there is time to make an application to court if necessary.
James Maguire & Co is a specialist firm of Family Law and Divorce Law solicitors based in Wilmslow, Cheshire. We offer legal advice to parties going through a divorce including the financial issues which flow from this and children matters including child maintenance. We can also advise on Schedule1 Children Act 1989 applications. We advise clients in the Wilmslow area and also to the surrounding areas of Alderley Edge, Bramhall, Hale, Altrincham, Manchester and the North West. We are also able to act for clients nationally and internationally subject to the jurisdiction of England and Wales. For advice please contact James Maguire by telephone +44 (0) 1625 529456 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org