Top tips for Father’s Day after separation

Father's Day can be a challenging day for families who have gone through separation or divorce. Coping with the emotional stress of the situation can make it difficult to find the right way to celebrate the day.

With Father’s Day fast approaching, it might be time for you to consider what the contact arrangements are for that Sunday. If you and your co-parent have an agreed contact routine between you and the children, check it against the calendar in advance to see where Father’s Day falls, as it may not fall on your scheduled day with the children.

In this blog, we’ll explore some top tips to help you navigate this and make the most of your day. Whether you're a father going through separation or a co-parent trying to make the day special for your children and their father, keep reading for some great ideas on how to celebrate Father's Day after separation.

Check your parenting plan or court order

Your contact arrangements may have come about by agreement or by court order. If you reached it by agreement, it may be documented in a parenting plan. Usually parenting plans and court orders do provide adjustments for special occasions such as Father’s Day. Check what these documents provide for and respectfully remind your co-parent of this.


Even if your arrangements don’t already provide for an adjustment, you can communicate with your children’s other parent to try and agree it. Perhaps they are willing to be flexible that weekend or the contact time could be swapped for another day that week or the following weekend. If your co-parent is female, you can offer to reciprocate the flexibility if Mother’s Day falls on a non-contact day for them in the future.

Consider supported communications

Communication between co-parents isn’t always easy or amicable; it will depend on your family’s circumstances. If you are unable to speak to your co-parent directly about the arrangements or have tried without success, there are alternative ways to communicate with them:

Mediation is a process where a trained impartial third party meets with both you and your co-parent in a series of scheduled meetings to help you reach an agreement. They will encourage you to listen and respond to one another to facilitate discussions.

Child inclusive mediation uses a specially qualified mediator who is able to speak to your children separately and feed this back to you and your co-parent to support discussions. This is generally encouraged and deemed suitable for children aged 10 and older.

A parenting co-ordinator is a professional who assists parents who may otherwise struggle to communicate. Their role is broader than a mediator and often less structured. They will be able to help identify negative cycles, help you and your co-parent understand the effect of your behaviours on the children and facilitate discussions between you to reach agreement. In some circumstances, you and your co-parent might agree that the parenting co-ordinator can make a decision if you are still in conflict.

Round table meeting and solicitor correspondence can also be used to address contact arrangements but whether this is appropriate will depend on your circumstances. If you and your co-parent’s solicitors are working well together, and you think having their support might help you to resolve a conflict, then you could consider asking your solicitor to pick up the phone, or write by email or letter. Or you could propose a round table meeting where you and your solicitors are present and you can all discuss the arrangements in real time. This can be an expensive option though if the only outstanding issue is Father’s Day.

Put the children first

If, despite all your efforts, you aren’t able to see the children on Father’s Day this year then remember it is just one day. Despite any conflict you may have had with your co-parent about the day, don’t involve the children in it and reassure them that it’s okay to spend Father’s Day without you this year. They shouldn’t feel guilty over something they don’t have control over. Consider celebrating Father’s Day on a different day when you are with the children- they will probably enjoy having something to look forward to with you!

Celebrate your own way

Whether you see the children on the 18 June or not, you are still their father and you can still celebrate Father’s Day. You could make your own plans for the day- do something that you have wanted to for a while but haven’t quite found the time or excuse for. Or spend time with your own father and celebrate as fathers together.

Plan for the future

If this year you aren’t able to change the arrangements, start thinking about how you want to deal with this moving forwards. As well as the supported communication methods above, you may want to consider formalising any arrangements you have into a parenting plan which covers these types of special occasions. A family law specialist will be able to support you in preparing and finalising such a plan with your co-parent so that in future, Father’s Day plans are much easier to deal with.

Whatever your plans for this Father’s Day are, we hope that you are able to celebrate the role you play in your children’s life.

Posted by

Mills & Reeve Sites navigation
A tabbed collection of Mills & Reeve sites.