Planning a peaceful Christmas for separated families


It’s an exciting time for families; children are writing their letters to Santa, and festive plans are starting to take shape. But for couples going through separation or divorce, the festive season requires some careful planning to make sure it’s a happy, peaceful one for everyone.


Festive unrest

Christmas is an emotive time and one where everyone wants to spend time with the kids in their family - especially parents and grandparents. But when you are no longer together, you need to weigh up the options and find a way to divide the festive break that will keep everyone happy and joyful - with the children’s happiness being the most important consideration.


Few separating couples will want to spend Christmas under the same roof, however, if this is a possibility, it is likely to be the best outcome for the children and will give them a sense of normality at this time of the year. In reality, though, it’s more realistic that an agreement is reached through which parents get care of the children on certain days and times over Christmas.


As with any aspect of family law, our solicitors know that the more amicably an agreement can be reached between parents, the better it is for the children and the rest of the family. Here we outline two of the most popular options for separating families over Christmas.


Half and half

The three days that are most disputed in these cases are Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day when families traditionally spend time together. Many couples reach an agreement where children spend Christmas Eve and half of Christmas Day with one parent, then from lunchtime Christmas Day and Boxing Day with the other. This is usually a satisfactory arrangement for all as each side of the family gets contact and the children essentially have two Christmas Days!


Christmas or New Year

This option means children spend the first week of their holidays with one parent and the second with the other. One having Christmas with the kids and the other having New Year together. The upside of this is that both parents have a full week with the children and they may feel more settled. However, one side of the family will miss out on seeing them on Christmas Day.


Reaching agreement

Both these options can be good for families if an agreement can be reached amicably, however, it often occurs that one or both parents object to sharing suggestions and this is where conflict can arise. In this case, we recommend professional mediation sooner rather than later, where a trained mediator is appointed to help identify and resolve issues to reach a cordial agreement on festive arrangements. This is always a less stressful and expensive alternative to court proceedings.


If consent cannot be reached through mutual agreement or mediation, then court proceedings are an absolute last resort. This can be a costly and lengthy process and we recommend you consult a solicitor many months in advance in order to reach a resolution in time for Christmas planning.


Goodwill to all

Ultimately, Christmas should be a happy and peaceful time for families and children, no matter what their circumstances. Parents should consider the wishes and feelings of their kids and look to set aside their differences, even for a short while. 


At Gibson Kerr we have many years of experience dealing with separating couples and our friendly and experienced Family Law team are here to help guide you on the best options for you as well as help you to understand your legal standing. We can offer expert advice and support on negotiations and help organise mediation if needed.  


If you want to plan ahead for a peaceful festive season for you and your family or want to discuss any aspect of Family Law, don’t hesitate to get in touch for a no-obligation chat For a no-obligation chat, call our Glasgow team on 0141 404 0436 or email