Navigating Christmas After Divorce

If you have recently separated or divorced from your partner, the thought of facing Christmas as a divorcee can be difficult to get your head around.

Here, Anthony Jones gives some advice on how to navigate the festive season following divorce.

Start your own traditions

Christmas is filled with tradition and it is likely that as well as all the normal festive rituals, you created your own little traditions during the time you spent in your relationship. Continuing to do these same things after a divorce can only serve to bring back memories and heighten the feelings of being alone. Instead, take some time to think about how you would like to spend the festivities and some of the new things you might do to mark them.

Make arrangements early

The first Christmas following a divorce or separation can be especially difficult if there are children from the relationship. Wanting to see your children at Christmas and being there to see them open and enjoy their presents is only natural. In most instances, the reality is that only one parent will be able to be there on Christmas morning. Making a plan for seeing children over Christmas should be approached as early as possible to allow time for discussion and to give the children time to get used to the arrangements. Try to be fair and reasonable – whilst it may be unthinkable that you will be apart from your children on Christmas morning, it is only one morning in the year.

The first Christmas following a divorce or separation is likely to be the most difficult; in following years, it may be that you decide to take turns or establish a way in which your children can divide their time between you over the festive period.

If you don’t have children, being sure to make arrangements to see family and friends well ahead of time is equally as important. People’s diaries get full very quickly and ensuring you spend time over Christmas with people that are close to you and will support you will be helpful in finding your way through what may be a difficult time.

Don’t compete on gifts

Spending on Christmas presents can quickly spiral out of control in any circumstances but where divorced parents are concerned, buying gifts for children can soon turn into a competition – even if inadvertently. Parents may want to create the ‘perfect’ Christmas for their children following a divorce, but trying to compensate for the fact they are no longer together by spending money is unlikely to have the desired effect.

It may be useful to agree a guideline spending limit for both parents to follow, or to create a shared gift list to avoid duplicated presents. It’s important to try and remember the true meaning behind Christmas and that spending time with your children and creating memories is the most precious gift of all.

For more help or legal advice on how to manage Christmas arrangements with an ex-partner, or if you are looking for early advice on how to navigate divorce or separation, please get in touch.

Anthony Jones is a Director, Head of Family and is a Resolution Accredited Specialist. For more information, please contact him on 01457 761320 or email anthony@odonnellsolicitors.co.uk