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Ask Clare Your Own Question
Clare, Family Solicitor
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 34236
Experience:  I have been a solicitor in High Street Practise since 1985 and have specialised in Family Law for the last 10 years
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Hello. My son is 4, his dad and I separated when he was

Customer Question


My son is 4, his dad and I separated when he was less than 6 months old. He used to have him 2 weekends out of 4 which changed when my son was 2, to 3 weekends out of 4.

My sons dad has him every boxing day and for several days thereafter. My sons dad and grandparents also take him abroad for two weeks each year which is something I do not contest. We have shared Xmas/Xmas eve - One of us has him the Xmas eve and Xmas day morning and the other parent collects him at 10am to have him Xmas day, this has alternated. I also have another son who is nearly 3, with my current partner, as they are getting older both of my children enjoy eachothers company and spending time together.

For this Xmas I have asked for my son in question to be with me and his sibling for Xmas eve and Xmas day until 4pm, at which time his dad can collect him and have him for the rest of Xmas day, boxing day and a couple of days after to visit family if they so wish. His dad is also having him from Fri 20th Dec - Mon 23rd Dec. They have agreed to this year but not to the time of 4pm as my sons dads mother is saying it isn't fair on her or on her son as they will get my son when he 'knackered' and that isn't fair on them.

They (I use they loosely as it's my sons grandmother I have the most contact with and she is practically harassing me over this situation) are also telling me that next year they are entitled to have my son on Xmas eve and Xmas day as I am asking to do so this year but I am not asking for my benefit, it is for my sons benefit and also his half sibling. I do not think it's fair to keep them apart over the Xmas holidays and the build up on Xmas eve now they are ages 3 and 4. I believe they will be upset and will want to open and play with their new things together. Am I being unreasonable? Isn't this situation about my sons best interests as a child? Aslong as they are seeing him I do not see why they can not have an enjoyable time with him on the eve of Xmas day and boxing day. I do not want any conflict I can not be bothered to have arguments with them over my son. I am very fair with contact etc and have never been difficult, now I am not agreeing with something they want to do I am getting hounded and being called unfair, it is unfair on them, it is unfair on my sons dad, it is unfair on my sons nan, etc. I have said we will discuss next year nearer the time and that isn't good enough. I have also said if 4pm is too late in their opinion then suggest another reasonable time and we can maybe come to an agreement - so they say 1pm, which I think is too early. I do not want my son rushed on Xmas day and driven here there and everywhere.

Please could you clarify if I am or am not in the wrong. Am I being unfair on my son? Is that who matters in this situation? Please help I am getting constant calls etc to try and break me down into complying to whatever they ask.

Thank you
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Family Law
Expert:  Clare replied 3 years ago.
Thank you for your question.
My name is XXXXX XXXXX I will do my best to help you but I need some further information first.
Before I comment on the rest of it now that he is at school does three weekends out of four work for your son?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hello Clare,


My son isn't at school until September of next year, he attends preschool Monday - Thursday at present

Expert:  Clare replied 3 years ago.
How do you see the current arrangements working then?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
I'm actually unsure what you're asking sorry. Which current arrangements? The contact throughout the year is fine as it stands until he attends school, at which time it will have to change to accommodate everybody. My question is regarding the Christmas period and whether or not it is in my sons best interest (and that of his half sibling) for him to be home at Christmas from the eve of Christmas Eve til the early eve of Christmas Day... Is that unreasonable and is there a way, legally, that his father could enforce alternate Christmas days whereby my son will not get the opportunity to spend it with his brother? I am just concerned my children are going to be separated at a time meant for children and enjoyment and pulled from pillar to post
Expert:  Clare replied 3 years ago.
I understand your position completely - but unfortunately the priority for the court is the relationship between your eldest and his father - not the one between your children
What you are asking for is indeed reasonable - you want your children to spend the entire day together
Equally what your ex is saying - that he also wishes to be able to spend a full Christmas day with his son is reasonable.
Alternating years would achieve both of these so if the matter goes to court there is frankly no way of guessing which way the court would go - although the fact that you have been alternating years until now makes it likely that an alternating system will be favoured - note I say likely - not certain. Much will depend on the Judge and his or her approach.
You are right the child needs to be the centre - you believe being with you would be best - your ex undoubtedly believes that he would be just as happy with him - and your son will agree with whichever parent he is with at the time
Having said that it is clear that there will have to be changes to the current arrangements in the near future anyway so now could be the best time to try Family mediation ( to try and resolve this - maybe 2pm would work better - and after all you can suggest that they start a pattern of a whole second Christmas day on boxing day - many people do this and it works well
This website may also assist
To sum up - no you are not being unreasonable - but neither is your ex and if you go to court there is simply no way of estimating who will be successful - however if it does go that way please remember not to bring your second child into the argument - you and I may consider it relevant - the court will not
I hope that this is of some assistance despite not being definitive - but please ask if you need further details