Emerging from “lockdown” and into a “tier two” – we are looking towards a festive season like no other. A season of choices – some of them tough – and a season in which our new, pandemic vocabulary is firmly entrenched.
One of the most pressing issues facing families, who no longer live under the same roof, centres on what their children’s Christmas 2020 will look like – logistically and emotionally. For family lawyers, these questions are not unique to this most unusual year – we have helped countless separated families come to agreements on child arrangements for festive periods. This year, however, things all seem very different.
A COVID Christmas
While questions around which days one parent will spend with the children remain – where Christmas Eve will be spent, how Christmas Day will work – the “Christmas Bubble” scheme has added another COVID term to get to grips with as well as a further layer of complexity.
The good news for parents grappling with a myriad of regulations is that – at present – Children who find themselves in these circumstances can move between family bubbles. This means that a mum may form a bubble with family and friends from two other households and a dad can do the same, without having to forgo a family Christmas.
Ultimately, while families will not be free to enjoy Christmas in the same way they have in the past and large Christmas gatherings are out of the question for many, this means that 2020 can still be a Christmas to remember. Crucially, for little ones it can still be magical, whether this is a first Christmas as a separated household or not.
Avoiding seasonal conflict
The restrictions do, however throw up the potential for disagreement. People have differing views on COVID restrictions, differing attitudes around what they feel comfortable doing and may have concerns about those whom their children will be mixing with as part of seasonal bubbles.
Addressing these potential areas of conflict is essential. Just as is the case when it comes to arranging logistics, good communication is key. Keep a dialogue going and be as open as you can be. That may be hard, but it can be achieved either privately or by seeking support from a family law professional.
Christmas 2020 does offer a light into what has been, for many a dark year. Where possible separated families should look to working together to come to a resolution.
Danielle Day is Head of Family Law at Berwins and is recognised in industry directories Legal 500 and Chambers and Partners as a leader in her field.
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