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A helping hand for separated parents this Christmas

With decorations springing up in High Streets across the Thames Valley, anxiety about where children will spend Christmas and New Year is creeping to the forefront of hundreds of separated parents’ minds.

“It’s meant to be the happiest time of the year, but for separated parents in our area it can be the worst,” says Alison Crossley, Service Director of Thames Valley Family Mediation Service, an Eton –based charity which helps families reach post-separation agreements on parenting, as well as over property and finance issues. She says arrangements for the festive period can be settled now by working out a simple parenting plan:

“Parenting arrangements that work well most of the year are often exposed as not fit-for-purpose when the Christmas holidays loom.

“The headache of working out which parent the child sees on which days, and how will they get there, can cause long-standing resentments to resurface, heaping huge additional pressure during an already-stressful time of year.

“It’s when supermarkets start playing the festive music, and Christmas trees pop up in shops, that parents who’ve tried not to think about this year’s arrangements find they have no choice. They know that previous settlements, sometimes imposed by divorce courts, no longer work now the child is growing up.

“A parenting plan is a simple tool and is easier to achieve than many people think. Agreed by both parents, it covers how the children will be supported and cared for and is tailored to your own unique family circumstances.

“It’s flexible so can accommodate holiday periods like Christmas and the summer and, crucially, it can be updated as time moves on.

“It can help ensure both separated parents agree arrangements that suit them both and that, crucially, ensure the child has a positive and enjoyable Christmas.”

Parents who want to know more can contact Thames Valley Family Mediation Service on 01753 830770 or

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