As October school half-term brings a reminder that Christmas is looming, a leading family charity says help is available for separated parents who are worried about where their children will spend the festive season this year.
“Across the land there are separated families who are literally dreading Christmas,” says Jane Robey, CEO of National Family Mediation, which helps families reach post-separation agreements on parenting, money and property.
“Christmas isn’t a time of joy for many separated families. Far from it,” she says. But she says by acting now to agree a simple parenting plan parents can ease the anxieties and help move everyone on a more positive footing as December edges closer.
“Many separated couples face huge festive pressures. Christmas heaps tension upon tension as they find settlements imposed by divorce courts are impractical, leaving the child caught helplessly in the middle of a miserable December.
“Routine living arrangements that have worked well all year are often ditched for a couple of weeks, with turmoil for pick-ups and drop-offs when children need to visit relatives they haven’t seen all year.”
“But by acting soon to make sensible plans, parents can in fact ensure their child has as positive and enjoyable Christmas as possible.
“A parenting plan is easier to agree than many people think. Starting with an open mind, 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.”
A parenting plan is an agreement made by separated parents, covering how the children will be supported and cared for. Family dispute specialists can help bring parents together, building on the common ground and shaping a plan that points the way ahead for the good of all family members, especially the children.
“Both parents tailor it to suit the circumstances,” adds Jane Robey. “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.”
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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Help and support or separated familes