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Advice around Christmas contact please
#1
Hello there, 

I've just joined on here hoping to get some advice.   

I separated from my ex-wife two years ago.  Me leaving our two girls is by far the hardest thing I've ever had to do, but I knew that my relationship with my ex wasn't healthy and it was the best thing for all of us.  I collect my girls to stay with me every Friday evening, and they alternate between 24 hour and 48 hour stays each weekend.  I take as much time off as I can from work to have them in the holidays.

Last year I requested that my girls share Christmas Day with me and my ex.  She said that she didn't want me to have them on Christmas Day or Boxing Day.  I saw them briefly to give them their presents on Christmas Day with her there too.  This year I moved into a new home with my partner and her three children, and my ex moved into a new home with her partner.  I expected that this year the girls would have Christmas Day morning with my ex in their new home, then it would be the girls turn to have Christmas Day and Boxing Day with me (I've also taken the rest of that week off work to have more time with them).  A couple of weeks ago my ex said that she didn't want me to have them on Christmas Day again this year.  When I disagreed with her points in an email she replied that she'd meditated on it and been shown that the girls should be with her and her partner that day.  

I got legal advice and sent a response saying why I think it is in the girls' best interests that they share their Christmas' between our homes.  She said I could see them from Christmas morning but she wanted them returning after 24 hours to spend Boxing Day with her then come back to me.  I replied that I thought that this was too much quick moving between houses for the girls, which they have found unsettling in the past.  I suggested they have time before and up to Christmas with me to settle (also explaining how much I'd like them to share their pre-Christmas build up and Christmas morning stockings with me for the first time since I left), then they have more days with her from Boxing Day to settle, before they come back to me for a few days.  My ex has replied that I should only see them for the 24 hours and then they stay with her again until the 29th.  This isn't the Christmas I'd hoped my girls would have with me this year.  I still think that it's in the girls' best interests that Christmas time be shared equally between our two homes year on year as an important part of their relationships with both me and my ex.  There's always been more flexibility around sharing other school holidays but my ex has said this is her final offer, that she won't discuss it any further and she won't read emails from me.  

Could anybody please give me some advice or guidance about where to go from here?  My ex and I have agreed that we need to try mediation in the new year to finalise contact arrangements and our divorce.
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#2
Welcome Stripy,

Christmas is always going to be tricky. Luckily for me, my ex is more interested in going drinking on Christmas eve than she is in our son so I get him Friday night til Christmas day afternoon.

However, prior to this I suggested that I have him Friday night and would do our "Christmas morning" on the morning of Christmas eve. So basically move everything forward so you get a Christmas eve build up and Christmas day morning with your kids - but it will be a day early. Then return them home to the ex so she gets the same, making it fair and win/win.

Maybe that could work for you? Good luck.

Also, maybe point out that her "final offer, no discussion" attitude is selfish and harmful to the kids.

What is it with these women, thinking they have the god given right to make all final decisions! Really winds me up.
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#3
(12-10-2016, 07:40 AM)Stripy Wrote: Hello there, 

I've just joined on here hoping to get some advice.   

I separated from my ex-wife two years ago.  Me leaving our two girls is by far the hardest thing I've ever had to do, but I knew that my relationship with my ex wasn't healthy and it was the best thing for all of us.  I collect my girls to stay with me every Friday evening, and they alternate between 24 hour and 48 hour stays each weekend.  I take as much time off as I can from work to have them in the holidays.

Last year I requested that my girls share Christmas Day with me and my ex.  She said that she didn't want me to have them on Christmas Day or Boxing Day.  I saw them briefly to give them their presents on Christmas Day with her there too.  This year I moved into a new home with my partner and her three children, and my ex moved into a new home with her partner.  I expected that this year the girls would have Christmas Day morning with my ex in their new home, then it would be the girls turn to have Christmas Day and Boxing Day with me (I've also taken the rest of that week off work to have more time with them).  A couple of weeks ago my ex said that she didn't want me to have them on Christmas Day again this year.  When I disagreed with her points in an email she replied that she'd meditated on it and been shown that the girls should be with her and her partner that day.  

I got legal advice and sent a response saying why I think it is in the girls' best interests that they share their Christmas' between our homes.  She said I could see them from Christmas morning but she wanted them returning after 24 hours to spend Boxing Day with her then come back to me.  I replied that I thought that this was too much quick moving between houses for the girls, which they have found unsettling in the past.  I suggested they have time before and up to Christmas with me to settle (also explaining how much I'd like them to share their pre-Christmas build up and Christmas morning stockings with me for the first time since I left), then they have more days with her from Boxing Day to settle, before they come back to me for a few days.  My ex has replied that I should only see them for the 24 hours and then they stay with her again until the 29th.  This isn't the Christmas I'd hoped my girls would have with me this year.  I still think that it's in the girls' best interests that Christmas time be shared equally between our two homes year on year as an important part of their relationships with both me and my ex.  There's always been more flexibility around sharing other school holidays but my ex has said this is her final offer, that she won't discuss it any further and she won't read emails from me.  

Could anybody please give me some advice or guidance about where to go from here?  My ex and I have agreed that we need to try mediation in the new year to finalise contact arrangements and our divorce.

While this will need Mediation "Deadlock" or No show before Court, I am going to try to explain how a court would view this situation.

The area of law on Child Arrangements is the Child's Right to "Quality Time" with both parents. This is why the normal is Friday till Sunday every 2 weeks, with mid week visits where shared care is practical, for example 0 or 1 one weekend, 1 or 2 the next. However, there is nothing wrong with that aspect of your arrangements where it is by agreement, but if she did make an issue out of it, you might have to settle for a mid week night instead of the Friday.

Even in a typical contact situation, the None Resident Parent would get up to half the school holidays if they asked for them (as I do myself). This is 6.5 weeks a year, but there is an alternative 4 week a year plan I advise on. If you was to have a week at Christmas and Easter, and 2 weeks in the summer (and another weekend) it would cover all school holidays that are not 1 week.

In a 1 week holiday, what me and my ex do, is I have the normal weekend, but it would start or end on the Wednesday.  If you use the 4 week plan, just have normal weekend, but perhaps have the bank holiday Monday as well, where they is one.

Due to the dates, Easter is not straightforward next year, the way we have it, is we will both have about a week block, but will be changing over Easter Sunday lunchtime.

On other 2 week holidays, again we stick to more or less the normal weekends, but its either Friday till Saturday the following week, or Saturday till Sunday the following week.

In my case there is a step sister, so by my choice they are with my ex on Christmas day morning, but they then come to me at lunchtime and go back New Years day.

A court will always take the view that significant dates should be turns each where it is workable. Contact is not about when suits the Resident Parent, its the other parents availability, and ensuring the child have time with both.

Mediation will have a cost to pay but if no agreement you need it before court, but if you can sort things out yourselves (and by this I mean every aspect you want included), then you could go to Court for a Consent Order.
Posts made by me are my opinion and any factual information should be checked out. If you do not have a Solicitor, often your local CAB can get you some initial advice.
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#4
Thank you for your replies and suggestions.  It's good to hear the thoughts of others who've been through something similar.  And helpful to get a better understanding of how the courts would see things.
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