Despite being relatively new holidays in their current form (I would encourage anyone who has not done so to look into the origins of Mothering Sunday for example), both Mother’s Day and Father’s Day hold a similar special status within family law proceedings, usually reserved for events such as birthdays or Christmas.
Whilst the court does not go out of its way to prioritise these days necessarily, it is usually within the court’s contemplation when considering how children should spend time with each parent to ensure that a child of the family is able to spend Mother’s Day and Father’s Day with the relevant parent.
This is not necessarily a recognition of the importance such days hold to the parents, but rather is a child focussed consideration. These days can clearly be difficult for children of families where parents have separated, particularly for children who are estranged from a parent, with the increasing commercialisation of the holiday creating an ever-present reminder for them.
How can you help your child navigate any issues?
Where there is animosity still present between parents, it is likely that everyone will be feeling some anxiety as you all approach these days. The priority for everyone should be to operate in the child’s best interests, but sometimes disagreements can be tied to this question.
As a starting point, it is critical for both parents to recognise the importance of these days and actively work to ensure there is a common recognition of this. Ideally, this will be supported by the presence of specific arrangements set out in an Order from the court. But what if it is not covered by an Order?
Anyone who is co-parenting knows that it is often necessary to agree a substantive schedule either covering months or even an entire year, if dates can be organised in this way. Bringing Mother’s Day and Father’s Day into discussions around special days like birthdays is clearly appropriate in the context of the court’s treatment of the same, and having clarity months in advance can help ensure that you and your child have a sense of certainty around the importance of the day.
If you are unable to come to an agreement between you, there is also a wide variety of resources available to parents who are trying to find more common ground on these issues or work through practical concerns and these include:
- Seeking the advice of a parenting coordinator who can assist in producing and implementing a parenting plan;
- Considering attending a programme such as the Separated Parents Information Programme, if not already completed, or the Parenting Apart Programme;
- Engaging with a charity assisting separated families, such as Relate, OnlyMums or OnlyDads.
Seek advice: how Moore Barlow can help
Our family team at Moore Barlow are well versed in a wide variety of non- court options in relation to child arrangements and would be happy to assist you in navigating any issues you may encounter in relation to special days.