With the festive season and summer school holidays fast approaching, it might be time to take stock of some of the important things in your life, particularly if you are going through a separation or have a parenting agreement or order in place.
Whilst it can be easy to be swept up in the festive cheer and holiday season, play dates, parties, and family gatherings (and trying to have some fun amongst all of it), it is necessary to make sure that you enjoy the break, especially if the children are spending time with you. So, to help you, here are some things that you might want to consider before launching into the festive season.
- If you already have a parenting plan or orders: Double check these documents and make sure that you fully understand what is happening these holidays with the children, such as when and where changeovers are going to be, who the children are going to be spending time with on Christmas and also maybe New Year’s. It is important to enjoy every minute you have with the children during the festive season and, to do so, it would only benefit everyone if you have a full understanding of what the arrangements are.If you are unsure of the meaning of the agreement or orders, or it has been some time since you’ve looked at them, it would pay to see your expert family lawyer gain an understanding of the meaning and effect of the agreement or order.
- If you don’t have formal parenting arrangements: Now is the time to seek legal advice, particularly if you are uncertain as to what is likely to happen over the coming festive/school holiday season. Remember, if it is safe to do so, it is important to maintain an open line of communication with the other parent and clearly communicate what your intentions or ideas may be for the festive holiday season. You may not reach an agreement or be able to make arrangements for what you think is appropriate, but it always pays to be respectful and child-focused during the silly season.
- Think about your actions: Christmas and New Year’s tends to be a time in which “time” seems to come to a standstill and people are either nursing food comas or (perhaps) overindulging themselves. Stop and think: If you have been drinking alcohol, make sure that you have no way of being able to send that nasty message or speak ill of your former spouse or the other parent to the children. It is important to understand that, in doing these things, you may jeopardise the ability to amicably resolve a dispute in the near future. It’s also not child-focused and, really, we all need to have the children front of mind.
- Take some time for yourself: You may be mid-way through a separation, be involved in litigation, or be waiting for your solicitor to return from leave to continue negotiations. Take some time to reflect on what has happened and look to the future and what you would like to achieve. We’re not talking about berating yourself; we’re talking about being mindful of what has occurred to bring you to the position you are in and how you may wish to resolve a dispute in the new year.
- Family: The festive holiday season is a time for family and sometimes this can be hard when you have recently separated or are still going through a separation. It is also hard when you have members of your family who want to offer you advice. This sometimes tends to complicate things, particularly perceptions, and it is important to know when to say “thank you but no thank you”. Maintain a clear head. Think about the children. Think about how your actions in the present may change, for either the positive or negative, things in the future. Obviously, we all want to be able to make positive change and, when going through a separation, reaching an agreement or resolving a dispute at the earliest opportunity is ideal.
- Don’t press send: I have mentioned earlier in this article that the festive season tends to be when time stands still and we may overindulge in the good things in life. Make sure that you don’t press send on any nasty emails or messages or make any nasty phone calls to the other person. These are not going to work well for you in future and may certainly disrupt any positive work that has been completed up until the Christmas holiday season. Think about whether how you would like to be spoken to and how you would react if you received a rude message from your former partner.
There are many things that you could think about looking into before you head into the festive holiday season. There are also many things you should think about doing (and not doing) during this time. Emotions tend to be running high, people may not be in the right mindset or have over-indulged, and responses usually tend to be emotional as opposed to logical. It is a quick way of escalating a dispute and ruining any prospects of a civil resolution in the near future if you act in a poor manner. This does not necessarily apply only to the Christmas or festive holidays; it applies throughout the year and during and after a separation.