Christmas without the kids: Co-op predicts spike in child custody requests

21 December 2018

As Christmas approaches, Co-op anticipates a peak in child custody enquiries from parents as the newly divorced face the concept of a Christmas alone.

The national legal provider’s business data reveals that a third (33%) of its child custody enquiries in 2017 came in the last three months of the year, showing the link between the approach of Christmas and conflict between parents over who has the kids.¹

With over 100,000 divorces taking place every year in the UK, for many this Christmas will be the first without the family.²

The festive period is a time of year renowned for bringing families together and for many, over the course of a marriage family traditions develop. As such, following a separation comes the realisation that those formed Christmas habits are no more.

Whether divorcees are used to putting the children to bed on Christmas Eve or spending the morning opening presents, the thought of waking up to an empty house can be isolating. Research from Co-op reveals that a third (33%) of recently divorced adults claim to ‘always’ or ‘often’ feel lonely.³

Tracey Moloney, Head of Family Law at Co-op Legal Services, says:

“Having worked with lots of people that experience their first Christmas on their own following divorce, it’s easy to see how sad and lonely this time can be.

‘’The key I believe is to not focus on what used to be and instead focus on new ways to celebrate and enjoy Christmas. Let go of the old traditions and try to embrace the fact that you can now make new ones.”

Tips from Co-op Legal Services’ Head of Family Law, Tracey Moloney:

1. Be flexible

‘’Christmas isn’t all about celebrating on 25th December. Both parents can create their own Christmas day with the kids – they’ll still enjoy it just as much! It’s also important to prioritise the happiness of the children – now is not the time to cause conflict or be resentful about your ex husband or wife.’’

2. Money, Money, Money

‘’Divorces can be time consuming and costly, meaning money can often be difficult after a divorce. Try not to make things all about the presents, it’s not a competition and it’s the feelings the kids will remember – not the actual gifts.’’

3. Help others

‘’If you’re feeling a little lonely, volunteer! Get involved in the local community or get together with other people who are spending Christmas alone. Alternatively, why not visit family you may not have seen in a while? You may find that they appreciate an extra pair of hands.

‘’There’s also the option to offer to look after the pet of a neighbour or friend who is away for Christmas. Not only will you be helping them out, but your Christmas just got a little less lonely.’’

4. Create new traditions

‘’You’ve probably not spent a Christmas alone for a number of years, maybe it’s time to see it as a positive opportunity. You can create your own traditions, whether that means spending more time with friends, visiting a new city or going on holiday. It’s also the time to create new traditions with your children.’’

5. It’s not forever

‘’You may not be able to spend Christmas Day with your children this year but that doesn’t mean it’s forever. A lot of couples find that alternating years works for them, that way you know that you’ve got a busy Christmas to look forward to in the not too distant future.’’


¹Co-op Legal Services Data based on enquiries in 2017
²According to ONS data from 2017:
³Research carried out by Kantar Public in 2016 among 2,500 UK adults.

The national legal provider charges £300 (including VAT) plus £550 court fees for a divorce from end to end with the support of a trained solicitor. Co-op offers fixed fees upfront before any legal work begins. An initial enquiry can be made via telephone or online, then a follow-up appointment is booked with an experienced family law solicitor to discuss individual circumstances.

For further information please contact:

Sarah Pyatt: or 07850 002 312

Notes to editors

The Co-op is one of the world’s largest consumer co-operatives and has a clear purpose of championing a better way of doing business for you and your communities. Owned by millions of UK consumers, the Co-op operates a total of 3,750 outlets, with more than 70,000 employees and an annual turnover of over £9 billion. Home to the UK’s leading funeral provider, Co-op Funeralcare conducts almost 100,000 funerals annually across over 1,000 funeral homes. Combined with its leading legal services business, the Co-op is also a national provider of later life products and services ranging from funeral plans, through to wills and probate.