November 20, 2019

How to survive the festive season: a guide for co-parenting

Hell exists and it’s in the rooms of the Family Court on the last working day before Christmas.

Separated parents who didn’t sort out their shared parenting arrangements prior to the festive period are thrashing out where the kids will spend Christmas.

This is not a place you want to be. Throw in all that goes with the festive season – slaving away trying to get work done so you can take a break, smiling until your face cracks at work parties, fighting the crowds shopping for a Christmas present, making plans to see or have family for lunch – you’ll need a break just thinking about it.

Without a doubt, school holidays and the festive season can be a very stressful time for a separated or divorced parent. It’s imperative then that separated or divorced couples with shared parenting needs have their care arrangements sorted before all hell breaks loose.

We’ve put together a list and checked it twice to help you get your affairs in order and reduce the potential for conflict and stress this festive season.

Do you know your current legal rights?

The Family Court looks at what is in the best interest of the children. No one parent has a ‘right’ to see their children at Christmas. If you think this could get messy, contact us right away for advice on what you need to do.

In planning for Christmas, have you considered

  1. Give the other parent plenty of notice. Get ahead of the game before the silly season robs everyone of common sense and goodwill.
  2. If you’re travelling, is that when you’d normally have children in your care? Travel might not always be agreed to, and international travel, in particular, can be tricky to navigate so come to us for advice.
  3. Be prepared: Have a detailed itinerary and contact numbers, copies of plane tickets etc available for the other parent.

Are those arrangements set down on paper?

Don’t rely on goodwill, even if you have an amicable relationship with your ex. A Parenting Plan is a written agreement setting out the care arrangements for your children. After you’ve done the planning to work out the arrangements, we can help you document them. It’s not legally enforceable but in many cases, it reduces the potential for conflict and stress.

A Parenting Plan can always be formalised into a Consent Order that certainly does have legal consequences if those orders are not followed.

Knowing where you stand; advance planning that gives each parent plenty of time to make or adjust their own plan; being clear about where you will be and when; and putting your agreement into writing, might just be the best thing that could happen to you and your family this festive season.

Story By

Diana Foye