In the beloved Christmas film, Home Alone, Kevin, a young boy accidentally left at home for the Christmas holidays, leaves the following message for Santa Clause:
“This is extremely important. Will you please tell Santa that instead of presents this year, I just want my family back?”
The Christmas season is a special time for children throughout Wales with the festive season providing opportunities for families to develop strong and lasting memories. Primary school nativities, visits to Santa’s Grotto, exchanging of gifts and family gatherings. However, with a growing number of children with parents living at separate addresses the Christmas season can result in increased disputes about how time spent with the children is to be shared.
Over the Christmas period we are often called upon to assist families in resolving disputes over child arrangements, particularly how time with the children over the festive season is to be divided. Parents will often look for a ‘model’ or ‘plan’ to adopt; however, each family is unique in its size and character and the best arrangement is one that parents can agree together.
Section 1 of the Children Act 1989 stipulates that when a court is asked to determine a question in relation to the upbringing of a child, that child’s welfare “shall be the court’s paramount consideration”. Therefore, when discussing how much time your child should spend with you, or your ex-partner, over Christmas you should always consider how the arrangements best meet the children’s needs.
If you are unable to reach an agreement, mediation can be an excellent method to resolve disputes and help settle any difficult issues. We would recommend not leaving it to long to arrange mediation to avoid being unable to arrange a joint mediation session before the Christmas holidays begin.
Ultimately, if no agreement can be reached, and other avenues have been exhausted, then it may be necessary to make an application to the family court for a child arrangement order.
If you would like any advice about child arrangements, or family matters generally, please feel free to call our family team on 02920 345511, or contact us by email on email@example.com.