It’s meant to be the happiest time of the year, but for separated parents it can be the worst. Anxiety about where the children will spend Christmas is at the forefront of thousands of divorced couples’ minds this month.
 
A national family charity says help is at hand, because arrangements can be settled now by working out a simple parenting plan.
 
“Far from being a time of joy, Christmas is often the most stressful period of the year,” says Jane Robey, CEO of National Family Mediation, a charity which helps families reach post-separation agreements on parenting, property and finance.
 
“Christmas holidays often expose living arrangements that work well all year as inadequate during the festive period. There’s turmoil for pick-ups and drop-offs when children need to visit relatives they haven’t seen for the past year. Then there’s piecing together the jigsaw puzzle of where the children will spend which days during the holiday period.
 
“It all heaps huge pressure on families, and it’s a time when separated couples often find settlements imposed by divorce courts don’t work. As a result, the child is caught helplessly in the middle.
 
“Instead of the joyful memories we want to help create for our kids everyone ends up having a thoroughly miserable Christmas. 
 
“But a parenting plan is a simple tool and is easier to achieve than many people think. Agreed by both parents, it covers how the children will be supported and cared for and is tailored to your own unique family circumstances.
 
“It’s flexible so can accommodate holiday periods like Christmas and the summer and, crucially, it can be updated as time moves on.
 
That means it’s simple to adapt it to changing need as the kids grow up and as the parents’ employment, finance and relationships change,” she added.
 
“It can help ensure both separated parents agree arrangements that suit them both and that, crucially, ensure the child has a positive and enjoyable Christmas.”
 
Parents who want to know more or to find their nearest family mediator can call 0300 4000 636 or enter your postcode here
 

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