Making a Christmas bubble - how does this work for separated parents?


Many of us have been eagerly awaiting the government to announce the rules for celebrating Christmas with loved ones and on 24 November 2020 those arrangements were finally confirmed.

So, what are the rules?

Between 23 and 27 December 2020 only:
  • you can form an exclusive ‘Christmas bubble’ comprised of people from no more than three households
  • you can only be in one Christmas bubble
  • you cannot change your Christmas bubble
  • you can travel between tiers and UK nations for the purposes of meeting your Christmas bubble
  • you can only meet your Christmas bubble in private homes or in your garden, places of worship, or public outdoor spaces
  • you can continue to meet people who are not in your Christmas bubble outside your home according to the rules in the tier where you are staying 
  • you cannot meet someone in a private dwelling who is not part of your household or Christmas bubble
You should also travel to meet those in your Christmas bubble and return home between 23 and 27 December, except those travelling to or from Northern Ireland, who may travel on the 22 and 28 December.

What does that mean for separated parents?

Children (under-18) whose parents do not live together may be part of both parents’ Christmas bubbles, if their parents choose to form separate bubbles. Nobody else should be in two bubbles.  This means that your child can spend Christmas in both parents’ households.

What if I am already in a childcare bubble?

Between 23 and 27 December, you can continue to use a childcare bubble, but only if reasonably necessary for the purposes of childcare and where there are no reasonable alternatives. If you want to meet socially with the other household in your childcare bubble, you should include them in your Christmas bubble. You and the other household in your childcare bubble would count as two households towards the three household limit for Christmas bubbles.

I’m separated and live on my own with my child – what happens to the support bubble I formed?

Christmas bubbles, support bubble and childcare bubbles are all different things and have their own specific rules.  
Existing support bubbles count as one household towards the three household limit. This means that if you are in a support bubble, you can collectively form a Christmas bubble with two other households. This applies only to support bubbles as set out in law. 
The Christmas period often brings with it various challenges for separated parents, agreeing the arrangements over the festive period, perhaps wanting to swap days to take the children to the panto, or meeting with family.  This year some of those issues may not arise as we are all restricted in what we can do and who we can socialise with, but instead we are faced with new challenges arising from the current restrictions we all face due to the global pandemic.  If you need legal advice regarding these issues, the team at Purcell Solicitors are all senior solicitors specialising exclusively in family law, and can be contacted on 01908 693000 or at


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