Christmas contact arrangements for separated families in Jersey – a few points to consider
We would suggest that you contact your ex-partner if you have not done so already, to make arrangements for child contact for Christmas holidays. It is not just the special days within this period that need to be given some consideration.
The school term in Jersey breaks up for Christmas on Friday 20 December 2019 (returning on Monday 06 January 2020), it is important to determine which parent will be collecting the children from school. It is also important to discuss what annual leave, you will both be taking over this period (if any), and who will be looking after the children then.
If you find it difficult to discuss matters with your ex-partner directly, we would suggest emailing or texting them to make arrangements. If you discuss matters face to face, we would also suggest firming up any Christmas child contact arrangements made by a follow up email or text, to avoid any misunderstandings/miscommunications.
Plan in advance
The ‘special days’ within the festive period usually are Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Years Eve and New Years Day. There is no magic formula in deciding what arrangement is best, however, we tend to find that people make one of the following plans:
- One parent have the week over Christmas, the other parent have the week over New Year, which would then alternate each year.
- That the children spend Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with one parent and Boxing Day with the other, these arrangements would then alternate each year.
- That the children spend New Years Eve with one parent and New Years Day with the other, again alternating the arrangements the following year.
What is appropriate and reasonable for each family, will vary.
The timings of the arrangements in place will also be important. Make sure you do not leave the other parent waiting around for collections/ drop-offs, as this will only cause unnecessary stress and tension, particularly if the situation between you and your ex-partner is less than amicable.
It is important to consider that it will be difficult for both parents when making this decision. When discussing arrangements, ensure that you are listening to your ex-partners proposals and that yours are not one sided to suit your preferences. Always ask yourself whether you would be happy with the arrangements you are proposing, if they were to be imposed on you.
Focus on the children
The children are the most important factor when deciding on these arrangements. Where appropriate ask the children for their opinion, however, be careful not to place pressure on them.
Ensure that any discussions regarding the arrangements are done so away from the children, unless it is appropriate to involve them (age dependent).
What if you can’t reach an agreement about Christmas child contact?
If you cannot reach an agreement with your ex-partner now, you should arrange to attend mediation with Family Mediation Jersey (FMJ), in the first instance. Any agreement you reach in mediation should then be passed to lawyers, to draw up into a legally binding document.
If you have attempted mediation, but have not been successful in reaching an agreement, you should contact a lawyer at the earliest opportunity, who will either discuss the issues with your ex-partners lawyer, or your ex-partner directly. The last resort, if lawyers cannot reach an agreement for you, would be to make an application to the Court. This would need to be done well in advance, as you do not wish to be involved in the Court process so close to Christmas, taking away from all the fun which could be best spent with your children. The Court is also very busy at this time of year, so it is best not to leave applications until the last minute.