Navigating the Coronavirus Christmas and setting up your child contact bubbles

Navigating the Coronavirus Christmas and setting up your child contact bubbles

Christmas is going to be different this year, whatever our family relationships and set-ups, especially given the most recent changes.

Along with all the planning that will go into forming your own family bubble for Christmas Day, if you or one of your family is a separated parent then there are additional ‘bubbles’ to arrange and navigate.  The good news for children is that the government advice allows for the opportunity to see both parents and their families at Christmas this year, despite the pandemic.

Christmas baubles/bubbles

Children will have the chance to see both parents at Christmas as the government guidance for families not living in the same household means that the under 18s can go between their parents’ homes across the festive period without affecting the various family ‘bubbles’.

An additional factor which may need to be taken into account is if you or a member of your household have to isolate. If you’re the parent self-isolating with the children, one way of dealing with that situation is to  make arrangements for indirect contact to take place with the children’s other parent.  Although direct contact may not be available, it can help the children if their parents can agree times when telephone calls and or a virtual get-together can take place, to help maintain some sense of Christmas normality.

With the additional complications the pandemic’s Christmas arrangements are bringing this year, it’s even more important than usual to ensure that arrangements that work for the children are put in place.

What does the law say?

The law doesn’t set out what’s to happen regarding contact on special occasions and holidays. However, when putting arrangements in place for contact over the festive period and special occasions, it must be in the best interests of the children.

Have a discussion

The sooner separated parents can discuss Christmas arrangements the better, especially in this most unusual year when plans for various family bubbles are being made.  Try to make sure you take time to have a proper discussion with one another. Be realistic and have at the forefront of the discussion, what is in the children’s best interests.

If you’re currently putting in place a separation agreement, it might be useful to include what’s to happen at special occasions to avoid any conflict in the future.

What to do if you cannot agree

If it’s not possible to reach an agreement, then using a mediation service might help. A trained mediator will help parents discuss what they would like and help reach an agreement. If using a mediation service does not resolve matters then the matter can be taken to court to have a sheriff decide. This might sound like a good way to resolve arrangement issues however, be aware that it could be costly and you’re putting your Christmas contact in the hands of someone who doesn’t know you or your children.

If you’d like to talk things through

We’re here to help and we understand that you may have questions about any contact arrangements you have in place during this time. Keeping what’s actually best for your children at the forefront of your mind and focusing on what children need during this unsettled period to keep them happy and maintain a good relationship is crucial. We have family law specialists in Glasgow and Edinburgh who are here to help make the process as easy and amicable as possible for you, so that you can make the most of the festive season.

We’ve set up a family law clinic where your first phone or video call is free of charge. We’ll use this time to assess your situation and see if you need further help. Our family law specialists can help with all aspects of family life, whatever stage you’re at. We’ll help make the process as easy and amicable as possible for you.

You can subscribe to our Family Law and personal law services updates here.

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