How can I get to see my children at Christmas? « McAlister Family Law


How can I get to see my children at Christmas?

Nick Hodson


In a memorable Christmas episode of ‘The Vicar of Dibley’, Dawn French spends Christmas Day eating multiple huge Christmas dinners. She does so in order to not upset her parishioners who want their vicar to spend the special day with them.

 In a similar way, the children of separated parents often spend their time travelling between homes – each parent making the day as happy as possible. Many young people will enjoy ‘double’ celebrations and receive extra presents.

But what happens if you can’t agree contact at Christmas, and what are your options? Many family lawyers start getting requests for advice on the issue shortly after the October half term ends. The end of year break is the next major school holiday and parents who don’t live with their children are keen to sort out arrangements.


Here are our five top tips for a happy family Christmas: 

  • Communication with your ex-partner: talking through the arrangements is really the best starting point. The vast majority of separated couples are able to sort Christmas out and it is much better having a plan that you both agree with rather than one that might be imposed by a court
  • Compromise : inevitably there will need to be some give and take from both sides if the children are going to have the best of both parents. Whatever you agree for this year, can you agree to alternate the arrangements for the next year? Sometimes, the court will reach a decision whereby the children spend Christmas morning with the parent they live with and spend the rest of the day and overnight with the other parent. Is that something that could work for you and your children?
  • Put yourselves in your children’s shoes: if there is a long distance between the two homes, do the children really want to spend several hours in the car? If you think the children are old enough to have a view, what would they want?
  • If you cannot agree the arrangements, consider going to mediation where an independent person may be able to help you reach a sensible compromise
  • If mediation is not achievable, consider seeking the advice of a family lawyer. It might be that, with their help, an agreement can be reached.

Ultimately, if there is no option, you can apply to the court for a child arrangements order. December is a very busy month for the courts so any application must not be left too late. At the court hearing, the judge or magistrates will try and broker an agreement that meets the needs of the children. Their welfare will be the court’s paramount consideration.  So, if you are experiencing difficulties agreeing the arrangements for your children over Christmas, please speak to an experienced family law solicitor who will help you in trying to achieve the best possible outcome.  

29 Jul 2020

McAlister Family Law: surviving COVID-19

Partner Nicola Wilburn-Shaw recently took part in a Q&A session with Living Edge magazine, covering lots of questions about how McAlister Family Law has coped with the coronavirus outbreak. 

Read more

16 Jun 2020

Back to school?

Due to Covid-19, many separated parents are trying to manage the shared care of their children, manage home schooling, and ensure that they are protecting themselves and their families from the virus. In recent weeks, we have seen in the press that many separated parents are fighting each other through the courts over whether their children should return to school as the lockdown is eased. Solicitor Jonathan Casey examines the issues.

Read more

26 May 2020

Prenuptial agreements - not just for the wealthy

It used to be that prenuptial agreements were something only the very wealthy had, but this is no longer the case. Partner Fiona Wood explains.

Read more

Book an appointment

It starts here.

Book your appointment here. Your first consultation is free.

Thank you for your message

We will be in contact shortly to arrange your appointment

Arrange another appointment?
Book an Appointment