Five Stages of Christmas for Parents after Divorce

At the festive time of year, financial and social pressures exacerbate the stress of divorce, especially if you have children.

Here are some some tips for getting through Christmas from Karen Salmon, family solicitor from Marlborough Law who works out of Hungerford Legal & Financial Centre and has supported many couples through the divorce process as amicably as possible.

Listen here to Karen’s podcast on this topic (from 9 minutes 30 seconds).

Karen’s Top Tips

1. Start the negotiations on Christmas contact time early, ideally a month beforehand. Try not to split Christmas Day itself as this is very disruptive for the children. Even if one parent has them from Christmas Eve to Boxing Day the other parent can still have a successful pretend Christmas Day because most children don’t know what the actual date is. The following year the parents can swap real and pretend Christmas Days.

2. Try to avoid present competition, as it puts pressure on the children to lie about the size of the presents they receive in order to protect their parents’ feelings. You could even agree to share presents for instance one parent buys a dolls house and other buys the dolls to go in it. If you aren’t speaking directly to your ex, try to communicate with them via text or relatives.

3. If it’s your first year on your own as a divorcee make sure to make new plans and traditions and a new group of friends for yourself, especially if you have children and they are with your ex over Christmas. Try not to drown your sorries in chocolate and alcohol and feel sorry for yourself and then start checking social media. Life will go on and you will have the children back after the holidays. In the meantime make the most of the extended holiday this year as quality me-time.

4. If the children aren’t keen, don’t drag them round to visit relatives to score contact points. What most kids want is to relax at home and play.

5. Remember that what children want most is love and attention. If they feel loved they will be happy with their new routines after divorce. If you and your partner are happier apart then your children will be happier too.


Karen is based at the Hungerford Legal & Financial Centre in central Hungerford and offers a free initial no-obligation chat and free copies of the Parenting Through Separation pamphlet with advice on how to protect children through the divorce process.

Marlborough Law belong to the Resolution advisory body for family solictors that encourages mediation, arbitration or collaborative practice as an alternative to divorce in court. Karen also supports the No Fault Divorce legislation which is coming in next year to reduce acrimony between separating partners where neither is specifically at fault.


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