It’s two months away, but separated parents who are anxious about where their children will spend Christmas are being urged by a national family charity to sort arrangements now by working out a simple parenting plan.
“For separated families, far from being a time of joy, Christmas can heap tension upon tension,” says Jane Robey, CEO of National Family Mediation, a charity which helps families reach post-separation agreements on parenting, property and finance, 
“Reminders that Christmas is fast approaching are all around us, but many separated families are dreading December, and with good reason. Living arrangements that work well all year can be exposed as inadequate. And there can be turmoil for pick-ups and drop-offs when children need to visit relatives they haven’t seen for the past year.
“Christmas places huge pressures 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, leading to a thoroughly miserable Christmas. 
“Family mediation can help both separated parents agree arrangements that suit them both and that, crucially, ensure the child has a positive and enjoyable Christmas.
“A positive parenting plan, agreed by both parents, is easier to achieve than many people think. Starting with an open mind, the parents need to accept that whilst their own relationship can’t be saved, the vital bonds between child and each parent can actually go from strength to strength.”
She said a parenting plan is a simple agreement made by separated parents, covering how the children will be supported and cared for. 
“You both tailor it to suit your own circumstances, and it can be flexible, updated to match changing need, not just when holidays come, but in years beyond as the child grows up and parents’ jobs and relationships change,” she added.
Parents who want to know more or to find their nearest family mediator can call 0300 4000 636 or type their postcode here.

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