DIVORCED and separated parents could face the risk of legal action if they fail to agree on where their children will spend Christmas.

The pre-Christmas alert has come from family lawyer Alison Webber, of mfg Solicitors, which has one of its main branches in Kidderminster.

Ms Webber has warned that due to new legal provisions that came into force in time for the festive season it is now assumed that both parents should be involved in caring for their children in the event of a separation.

She said the new provision encourages parents to share the forthcoming holidays with the other.

“Hopefully most parents who live apart will have by now agreed where their children will be for Christmas and New Year,” she said. “But many are unaware that if there is a dispute, the courts can intervene and the new legal provision which came into force on October 22 will now also be taken into account.”

Ms Webber said the decisions made by judges will still focus on what is best for the child, but will not be the same in every case.

She said: “It is obvious that divorce and separation is never easy and it can make Christmas especially difficult.

“As we approach the festive season we have been sitting down with parents who are finding that it is far better to come to a compromise.

“The last thing anyone wants to be dealing with at this time of year is a court hearing. But parents must realise that if it does come to that then the court has the power and will use it.”

It is estimated that one in three children in the UK will experience parental separation at some point and around half of couples who divorced in 2010 had at least one child under 16 while a fifth were under age five.