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How do I sort out Christmas contact with my children? 

The holidays are especially fraught times for families when parents are separated.  Here are five steps you can take to try and minimise the conflict involved. 

Step 1 – be realistic. 

It is likely that both parents will want to spend time with their children on Christmas day or certainly during the festive period.  It is unrealistic to expect the other parent to accept that the children are with you for the entire time. 

Step 2 – start the conversation early. 

Unless there is a court order or an agreement in place which specifies exactly who sees the children when over the festive period it is likely you will need to discuss, negotiate and compromise with the other parent.  It is best to have these discussions as far in advance as practical.  As the festive period draws near emotions can run high and it can make these discussions very difficult. 

Step 3 – be prepared to compromise. 

You may need to consider splitting Christmas day itself with the other parent or maybe you can alternate Christmas day and boxing day each year.  You need to work out which scenario works best for your children. 

Consider the handover.  If you and the other parent have difficulty conducting the handover of the children without a third person present it may not be feasible for you to split the day. 

Step 4 – take legal advice. 

If you and the other parent cannot negotiate yourselves or if discussions are not being productive, you should seek independent legal advice.  A solicitor can advise you on the best strategy going forward and sometimes having another person speak on your behalf can take the heat out of the situation. 

Step 5 – raise court proceedings 

If all else fails you can raise a court action and seek a Sheriff’s determination how the holidays should be split.  Be aware these proceedings take time and require a lot of preparation.  You should also note that a Sheriff does not know you or your children and although they make the best decisions they can, based on the information available, you may not agree with their viewpoint on what is right for your children. 

If you have experienced difficulty organising Christmas day or the festive period this year, contact a solicitor early in the new year to ensure that next year matters are resolved well in advance.  These steps also apply to other school holidays and birthdays. 

At MacBeath Family Law we would be happy to assist you in resolving these issues to reduce the stress to you and your children at these special times.

As always, the purpose of this blog is to provide an overview of the position in Scotland and should not be relied upon as legal advice.  You should always obtain specialist legal advice about your own circumstances.  Please call 0131 5818 652 or email info@macbeathlaw.co.uk to arrange an appointment.  

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