How to manage Father’s Day when you are divorced or separated

Father’s Day for dads who are divorced or separated can be a difficult and upsetting time. It can be a day filled with mixed emotions, from the joy of celebrating being a father to the pain of not being with your children, especially if it falls on a weekend when your ex-partner is due to have the kids.

Below is some advice on how you can agree parenting plans to cover this day and other special days in the calendar.

Be flexible:

If you are separated from your partner, you may not necessarily be able to spend Father’s Day with your children if your agreed parenting plan doesn’t allow for any flexibility and the day falls on your ex’s allocated weekend. And the same can be said for Mother’s Day, Christmas, Easter and any other date when, typically, a family would have come together to celebrate. It’s therefore usually in the best interests of both parties to agree on some wiggle room in their parenting plans that will ultimately benefit everyone – especially the children!

Be reasonable:

Try to be reasonable in your negotiations. Rather than demanding the whole weekend, you may find your ex is more open to an hour or so to enjoy a special brunch or lunch.

Equally, remember the dads on the other side of the family and how you can accommodate their needs too. For example, if the children are close to their maternal grandfather, they may also want to see him, so it’s worth factoring that into what you agree.

Be genuine:

If you are going to request a change to the pre-agreed parenting schedule, make sure it’s something you really do want. Often, we work with couples who say their ex has a habit of chopping and changing dates just to start an argument. Planning well in advance and being genuine about each request will help to keep things amicable.

Be prepared to adapt:

What works one year, might not necessarily work the next, so be prepared to adapt to current circumstances.

Even if it’s difficult to accept, your children may go on to form a strong bond with your ex’s new partner, and they may also want to celebrate the role that he plays in their lives on Father’s Day at some point too.  We regularly receive enquiries from families whose circumstances have changed since their parenting plan was originally put in place and family mediation can help them navigate these changes and reach a solution that meets everyone’s needs.

Be prepared to talk:

If you and your ex are finding it difficult to talk to each other, then you may want to consider family mediation. Family mediation is a process where a trained independent mediator helps you work out arrangements concerning your children, finance or property.

The mediator is there to help you work through disagreements and find solutions that work for you both. Even if you already have a child agreement in place, you can still use mediation to agree some exceptions and flexibility on key dates such as Father’s Day.

Currently, couples wanting to discuss and agree children’s matters can access the Family Mediation Voucher Scheme, which is worth up to £500 towards family mediation and Legal Aid also remains available for family mediation.

Remember the bigger picture:

While Father’s Day may be a difficult time, it’s important to remember your relationship with your children is about more than just this one day. Keep working on building and maintaining a strong relationship with them throughout the year.

Put your children first:

Ultimately, everything you agree with your ex-partner should be in the very best interests of your children. You might be angry or upset with your ex, but if your kids want to see their stepdad or granddad this Father’s Day consider the impact it will have on them if you dig your heels in.

However much time you do get to spend with your children on Father’s Day, whether it’s the whole weekend, the day or just a few hours, try to make the most of your time with your children by having fun and creating memories.

NFM’s professional mediators are highly skilled third-party negotiators with experience in helping families create long-term solutions that work well for their particular circumstances. Our mediators can help you turn arguments into agreements that work for both parties.  Find out more about how family mediation can help you or book an appointment today with a family mediator.