Have you recently separated from your partner and/or is this the first Christmas you will be on your own? Partner and head of the family law team, Estella Newbold-Brown shares her tips for surviving the Christmas break after a separation.
Although Christmas is portrayed as an exciting time of the year, it can be rather challenging for individuals or families where there has been a divorce or separation. Emotions can run high and routines that have been established for a while may be disrupted to facilitate contact, leaving individuals and children feeling anxious. My parents divorced/separated when I was 17 and I do remember one of my fears would be where I was going to spend my Christmas day and Boxing day, and when I would see each parent. Whilst I experienced Christmases as a young adult whose parents had separated, the hurdle for both me and my parents was to accept that Christmases would not be the same again, and to focus on establishing a new approach to Christmas.
Talk it out
If you are a parent who is alone on Christmas Day, then focus on what you are worried about and be honest with yourself. Once you have established what your specific fear is you can then navigate a way forward to deal with the reality of the situation. Are you surrounded by friends who are in a similar position that you can discuss your concerns with and share ideas? Is it likely that your first Christmas alone will be the worst, but subsequent Christmases will be much easier and therefore, you simply need to afford yourself with time to heal?
It will no doubt be difficult, but it is important to not become resentful on the day you are not seeing your child/children. From a child’s perspective, they will not wish to see their parents arguing or for this festive time of year to become a “sore topic” between their parents. The ways to avoid this is if things are acrimonious between yourself and your partner, ensure that handover is carried out in such a way to avoid face to face contact and to have concrete plans in place so that the contact between the two of you will be limited.
Have yourself an alternative Christmas Day
Spending Christmas Day without your children is always going to be different, but different doesn’t mean bad. Whether that’s spending it with friends and family, volunteering at your local community kitchen (The Londonist has a list of places in London that need volunteers here), or even settling down on your own with some good food and that boxset that you’ve been meaning to watch all year, it’s important to have a strategy in place for the day.
Christmas can be any day
Christmas Day is just one day but if you have children, this time of year is likely to be challenging for any separated parent. However, for a child if they are to spend two Christmases with each of their parents, they are not going to care which actual day is spent with each parent. What children care about is spending time with each of their parents and making memories. Therefore, if you are seeing your child on Boxing Day and not Christmas Day, treat that day as if it is Christmas Day and have turkey, all the trimmings, Christmas music, Christmas films, mulled wine, stockings, games, family members over, the full experience. When your children look back on their childhood Christmases when they are older, they will not actually remember which physical day was spent with each parent, simply that they had a wonderful time.At Amphlett Lissimore solicitors, we are highly trained family law specialists who have a wealth of experience and knowledge to assist with these and other types of situations. Should you require any assistance to help your Christmas contact to be as smooth sailing as possible, please do get in contact and we can discuss the range of services which we offer.