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Are you facing a Christmas break overshadowed by uncertainty and upset?

Published on 18 October 2016 | Modified on 6 December 2022

Written by Stacey Bennett

Many separated parents suffer the anguish of not knowing whether they will see their child over the Festive period. The short time in a child’s life when the magic of Christmas can be enjoyed to its full potential can often be missed by a non-resident parent. These are precious moments to be enjoyed together; a time to create cherished memories.

However, for a non-resident parent who does not have an Order in place, coupled with an uncompromising or unpredictable former partner this can be a frustrating and miserable time. Presents go un-opened and Christmas dinners postponed until the reluctant parent with the day-to-day care permits the child to spend some time with them. Depending upon the age of the child this can be as equally confusing and upsetting for them.

Of course, the best way around this is for the parties to communicate with one another, speak to the child about their wishes (if they are old enough) and reach an agreement well in advance that suits each parent and fundamentally is in the best interests of the child. But this ideal scenario is not always achievable and the lines of communication may be so damaged at this point that a formalised agreement is needed.

Here at Poole Alcock our expert department of experienced Family Solicitors, based across Cheshire, can work with you to obtain an order from the court. This can set out the time you will spend with your child, not just over Christmas this year but over the weekends, Easter, the summer holidays, half terms, next Christmas and beyond. It is your opportunity to formalise an agreement, with all the backing that a court order provides. Any failure to comply with the order can lead to enforcement action, with the possibility of a financial penalty, unpaid work and even imprisonment.

Despite the court’s starting point that no order should be made in relation to who a child ‘lives with’ and who a child ‘spends time with’; the court’s overriding concern is the welfare of the child. If they do not feel that the child’s needs are being met, the court is quite prepared to step in and can make a Child Arrangements Order. Amongst the things the court will consider is something called the Welfare Checklist which includes:

  • The ascertainable wishes and feelings of the child concerned (considered in light of their age and understanding);
  • Their physical, emotional and/or educational needs;
  • The likely effect on the child of any change in his circumstances;
  • Their age, sex, background and any characteristics, which the court considers relevant;
  • Any harm which the child has suffered or is at risk of suffering;
  • How capable each of the parents and any other person in relation to whom the court considers the question to be relevant, is of meeting their needs;
  • The range of powers available to the court under the Children Act 1989 in the proceedings in question.

Any Court proceedings can be complex but with our support and expertise we can you help you to navigate through the process and work with you to achieve your aims.

Now is the time to act if you want to initiate Court proceedings in good time for Christmas arrangements to be made.

Call our Freephone number 01270 625478 (24/7, 7 days a week) and arrange to meet with an expert Family Law Solicitor for a free initial consultation at one of our offices to discuss your options.


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