As a father living in England or Wales, you don’t automatically have a legal right to see your children over the Christmas holidays, unless you have a Court Order that says otherwise.
Fathers’ Right to See Children at Christmas
It’s perfectly understandable that you’ll want to see your kids over the Christmas holiday. After all, it’s a time to spend with those you love most, and it’s a particularly magical occasion for young children, which you’ll want to be a part of.
But the fact of the matter is that as a parent, you have no special legal right to see your children over the festive season. The law in England and Wales simply doesn’t make any provisions relating to contact with children over Christmas.
So if you’re a father and you’re no longer living in the same household as your children, you’ll need to come to an agreement with their primary care-giver (usually their mother) as to when you can see them.
Sometimes parents can make an agreement between themselves. For example, you might decide that one parent sees the children in the morning on Christmas Day, and the other sees them in the afternoon. Or the children might spend this Christmas with their mother, and the next year with their father.
However, coming to an amicable agreement isn’t always possible. It’s not unusual for separated parents to clash over child contact, especially when it comes to Christmas – a time of year when emotions are often running high.
So as a father, where does this leave you? Should you just accept that fact that you can’t see your children at Christmas?
How to Resolve Child Contact Disputes
If there are disagreements regarding any aspect of child custody or contact, we recommend that your first step is to try mediation. Mediation is when a specially trained mediator works to help you reach an agreement as to where and when each parent sees their children.
If this isn’t successful, you could get a Child Arrangement Order from the Court. This involves making an application to the Court, where a Judge will decide where a child should live, and when he/she should see each parent. A Child Arrangements Order can make provisions for special events such as Christmas and birthdays.
Our Family and Divorce Solicitors can also advise whether there are any other types of Court Order that would be beneficial in your situation. These Court Orders are legally binding, so if a Judge rules that child contact should be shared over Christmas, that’s what must happen – giving you, as a father, the legal right to see your kids at Christmas.
Making Child Contact Arrangements
Making child contact arrangements can be one of the most difficult things to agree on when a relationship breaks down.
Sometimes it will be immediately obvious that an agreement cannot be reached. But other times problems only arise later down the line. This often happens during the festive period, when a father might ask if he can see the children over Christmas, but is told “no” with no room for negotiation.
However, you must remember that your child has a right to maintain a good relationship with each parent, as long as it is safe for him/her to do so. This means that as a father, you should be allowed to spend time with your kids. If you are unreasonably being denied contact with your children, you should speak to one of our Solicitors about your options.
For initial advice call our Family Law & Divorce Solicitors on 03306069626 or contact us online and we will call you.