Tag: Legal Separation

Child contact arrangements for Christmas – top tips

Christmas is traditionally a time for families to come together. However for parents who are separating, Christmas can be a very stressful time. Contact arrangements that work well over the year can become strained over the festive season whilst parents and children adapt to life after divorce. Avoid any unnecessary upset over the Christmas holidays this year by planning ahead and arranging child care agreements well in advance.

Here are a few ‘top tips’ to help separating couples to ensure that the holiday runs as smoothly as possible:

1. Plan ahead – Do not leave difficult decisions to the last minute. Although the conversation may be difficult and it is tempting to put discussions off this will make negotiations between you and your former partner more pressured which is likely to result in unnecessary animosity.

2. Communicate – Putting disagreements aside, co-operating and keeping your former partner informed of any unexpected changes during the Christmas period will make trying to arrange time spent with the children much easier.

3. Put children first – It is easy for parents to forget to ask the children what they want or consider what is best for them when trying to reach an arrangement which works for both you and the other parent. It is important to take a step back and think about what is best for your child when making contact arrangements. When you do spend time with the children over Christmas, try your best to relax, put your differences with your former partner and enjoy the time spent together. Couples often try and ‘recreate’ the Christmases they enjoyed prior to separation however it may be beneficial to embrace the change and try celebrating in a different way – as you can imagine, many children enjoy celebrating Christmas twice every year!

4. Look at the big picture – Think about the long term rather than just focusing on Christmas. It is likely that both parents will want the children to be with them on the first Christmas Day after separation; however there will be many others and other special occasions in the future. The most helpful approach is to alternate arrangements from one year to the next or even to share Christmas Day if you do not live too far apart.

5. Be flexible – Due to work commitments or extended family traditions it can be difficult to share time equally over busy holidays. Be willing to compromise and consider agreeing for the other parent to have the children on Christmas day this year, and swap the following year.

Don’t leave Christmas arrangements to the last minute. If Christmas contact is a problem, or if you need general advice in respect of child contact arrangements, please contact one of our family law specialists today on 0161 927 3118.

The pros and cons of Legal Separation

Many married couples believe that the term ‘separation’ is simply that stage between a marriage ending and a divorce being granted. But in a growing number of cases, separation can actually involve a legal process: being legally separated means that you and your spouse are still married and cannot re-marry, but legally you are no longer living as husband and wife.

As a specialist Family Law firm based in Altrincham, Cheshire, we can provide expert advice on the pros and cons of Legal Separation taking into account your own individual circumstances.

There are several reasons why you may wish to opt for a Legal Separation rather than a divorce. Your religious beliefs, for example, may mean that you are unwilling to divorce, but do wish to show that you and your spouse are no longer together. Alternatively, you might not want to finalise a divorce straight away – a Legal Separation allows you time and space to decide the fate of your marriage. And then there are financial considerations. Unlike a divorce, a Legal Separation means that you should be able to retain some benefits for your spouse and any children, for example survivor benefits included in some pensions and insurance policies.

If you’ve been married for less than a year, you can’t divorce until the year is up and in many cases you may need to be separated for two years before a divorce can be granted. In these cases a Legal Separation will set out the financial terms you and your spouse must adhere to whilst you are waiting to divorce. This is a good way to protect your interests during this interim period.

Of course, there are instances where Legal Separation may not be the right decision to make. For example, you and your spouse may simply agree to separate for a set amount of time in a bid to save your marriage, in which case there is really no need to make it a legal process.

Something else to consider carefully, should you decide to get divorced following a Legal Separation, is that either spouse may argue to the court that the terms of the separation should be used as the basis for the divorce settlement. So it’s vital that you come to a separation agreement that you can both live with, long-term.

And, of course, when you are legally separated neither of you can remarry, which can make it difficult to move on and create a new future for yourselves. Our specialist Family Law lawyers based in our Altrincham, Cheshire offices can talk you through your options and help you to decide if Legal Separation would be the right decision for your circumstances. Please contact us on 0845 548 1007 for a free 20 minute consultation.