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Christmas is not always jolly for parents separated from children

Published: 21st December 2020 16:16


THE FESTIVE period is not always the most wonderful time of the year for families says a unique Bristol-based legal service (December 2020).

Lots of loved-ones will be apart this Christmas due to COVID-19 so Children in the Middle® is asking others to spare a thought for those who are prevented from seeing their children this yuletide.

Family barrister, Elizabeth McCallum, who co-founded the legal service with her fellow barrister Sarah Evans, says: “It’s important to remember that not everyone will be having such a ‘Holly, Jolly Christmas’ this year despite the idyllic images we see all around us, including adverts showing cosy family scenes and the posts of the ‘perfect Christmas’ shared on Instagram and Facebook. 

“While it can be joyous for those able to spend time together, for some parents it may be harder if they are apart from their children and the bubble system may also be causing further issues with who in the extended family can meet up too. So, it may not be as simple as children being able to spend time with each of their parents’ relatives during the festivities as this would challenge the three households rule potentially.

“In a normal year, Christmas Day is an occasion that highlights the heartache for those separated from their loved ones, but COVID-19 has added another dimension. It has affected people’s plans to be together at Christmas due to the bubbling system, and it’s not just parents who may be suffering, it is also vital to look at everything from the child’s point of view.

“The child may have issues related to their behaviour and be feeling insecure because of their parents’ separation or divorce and now concerns and rows over Christmas could be impacting on them too. Also, experiences of loss can affect how children deal with relationships later in life. So, while it’s not difficult to focus on how you feel as a parent, the child must come first when it comes to making contact arrangements and agreeing who is in a bubble with who this Christmas.”

Children in the Middle is the only practice solely specialising in offering separating or divorcing parents, wishing to make arrangements to see their children, direct access to barristers*, inside and outside court, nationally in England and Wales. 

“Most separated parents will have already organised the arrangements for the Christmas holiday period and will be looking forward to the festivities. However, for some separated parents the arrangements are still being discussed and perhaps, an agreement feels a long way off, especially with issues related to bubbles and extended families. 

“Christmas is one of the most difficult times of the year for separated parents, so we offer some simple and sensible tips to help ensure amicable arrangements are made for the festivities. For example, if you’re not seeing your child on the ‘big day’, think about how and when you will celebrate instead. Can you have a second ‘Christmas Day’ within the five day bubble window before or after December 25? Most children are thrilled to have two ‘Christmas Days’. If you wish to see extended family, then this may not be possible in the timeframe available unless both parties can amicably agree on which households these will be.

“Always try and think about the arrangements from the children’s perspective – what would work best for them given the restrictions for the festivities?”

Children in the Middle is expert in this field of law and the team has a wealth of experience in handling these complex and sensitive disputes.

Sarah, who has been a children law specialist for more than 30 years, has a wealth of experience having spent time as a family lawyer working in the USA, Scotland and London before joining Magdalen Chambers in Exeter as a barrister. 

“Most of our work is done remotely, which means geography is not a barrier. It also means we keep our overheads down, a benefit we can pass on to you. What we offer is affordable, expert legal advice about your children.

“By having direct access to our barristers, you can save money by managing your own case through handling the admin and the paperwork, while still benefitting from specialist legal advice from a barrister, who is a children’s law expert.” 

As well as helping with court cases, Children in the Middle® can offer assistance with appointments and paperwork to parents living anywhere in the UK.

For further details, please call Children in The Middle® on 0117 214 1797 or email office@childreninthemiddle.co.uk. Alternatively, please visit www.childreninthemiddle.co.uk.

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