FOR separated parents, Christmas can lead to squabbling over children, court orders, and contact hours.
HHG Legal Group Managing Director and Special Counsel in the Family Law team Simon Creek has some tips for navigating such a sensitive time.
Parents who have their children’s best interests at heart will generally agree that the children will spend time with both parents during special occasions (such as birthdays and Easter).
These same parents will agree that it is best for children to spend time with mum on Mother’s Day and dad on Father’s Day.
However, negotiating Christmas can be difficult following separation so it is important to make arrangements with your ex partner.
Planning in advance is the easiest and by far the most effective way to minimise conflict.
The following should be discussed with your ex-partner:
a) How and at what time changeovers will occur. Where there is an ongoing conflict between parents, it may not be practical for parents to collect the children from each other’s homes for Christmas;
b) Where the children will be going and what activities will they be doing over Christmas holidays to avoid double ups;
c) Ensure that both parents agree who will spend what time with the children during each day of the Christmas period.
If you’re unhappy with your parenting arrangements and you don’t know what to do, speak to a Family Dispute Resolution practitioner who can sit both you and your ex partner down and discuss the issues you’re having with proactive ways to resolve them.
If Family Dispute Resolution is unsuccessful, you may have to commence proceedings in the Family Court.
As with any court proceedings, we strongly advise you try and communicate your issues with your ex partner before you enter into a potentially lengthy and costly legal dispute.