With the summer holidays now a distant memory, most of us are beginning to think about the next important date on the calendar - Christmas. For some, the most stressful part of the festive period is trying to look pleased when presented with a gift of socks (again). For those with children who are no longer in a relationship with the other parent, however, making the necessary arrangements for where the children will spend the festive break can prove fraught.

Christmas is undoubtedly a special time. Family and friends come together and children are often at the heart of the celebrations. What are your rights as a parent during the holidays? It is important to remember that there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to organising the children's time at Christmas. No two families are the same. The arrangements which are made, require to be in the best interest of the children. Some families choose to move children between households at a specific time on Christmas Day. Others choose to leave the children in one house on the big day itself and move them to the other household on Boxing Day. The arrangements can be as flexible or structured as necessary.

If the other parent refuses to agree that the children should spend a proportion of the holidays with you, how can you force them to deal with matters? An application can be made to the court so that the Sheriff can determine what the arrangements should be. The court will only be concerned with what is in the best interests of the children. The Sheriff ought not to be concerned about preserving the feelings of either parent, nor will he or she make keeping the wider family happy a priority. It is generally accepted by the court that children should spend time with both sets of parents during the festive period. The court's function is to make that happen in the absence of agreement. Applications of this type can take time to progress and courts are usually very busy in the immediate lead up to Santa's arrival. If you are likely to require assistance regarding this matter, please contact one of our experienced family law Solicitors in good time.


Donna McKay

Legal Director