Ask the Expert: My ex and I need to negotiate where our children spend Christmas

If faced with confrontation and not being able to agree agree when making plans for Christmas, talk to someone experienced in dealing with family issues

Q: "This is the first Christmas since my husband and I split up. What's the best way to make it still feel special for our children?"

A: Family law solicitor Anna Rhodes, of Blacks Solicitors in Leeds, says: "The first step is to start talking and get some firm plans in place for who will be where, when, and with whom. Solid plans are key to ensuring that everyone, most of all the children, can enjoy a happy and relaxed festive season.

"Talk to your ex about what you both think would be best for the children, focusing on the children's needs and how to make Christmas most enjoyable for them. Some children might like to spend half the day with one parent and half with the other, whereas other children might prefer to spend a full day with each parent and alternate each year.

"If you can try to build some kind of 'parenting alliance' with your ex, even better. You don't have to be best friends, but your children will be reassured to see you talking and working together for their benefit.

"There's no reason why your children can't enjoy a special day with both parents separately during the festive season. If your ex is determined to have the children on Christmas Day, maybe you could agree that you'll have them next year.

"If you find yourself facing a confrontational ex and struggling to agree or keep your cool when making plans for Christmas, talk to people who are experienced in dealing with family issues."

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