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  • Gabriella Ferraro

Divide your Christmas or co-parent during Christmas?

Written by Nanki Kaur

Edited by Dannielle Wright

It’s the festive time of the year and most of us have endured a long year of lockdowns and restrictions. Whilst many of us are ready for our breaks, many families will not be engaging in the traditional Christmas which typically involves enjoying each other’s company and exchanging presents.

Separated families and their children, will find themselves arguing as to their Christmas parenting arrangements and changeovers. Will the children be at your place for Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Boxing Day, or not at all?

If parents have not communicated earlier, they are left with stresses of a busy season and the likelihood of not spending the Christmas season with their beloved children. This can cause undue conflict and can impact the Christmas experience of the children that are caught in the middle.

The Court’s position relating to Christmas is that this time is for the children and therefore, the children’s living arrangements are ordered for the children’s benefit and not the parents. It is salient that negotiations between parties consider the best interests of the children and that a meaningful relationship is being facilitated between the child/ren and their parents. Much too often, the parents and their extended counterparts get caught up in family traditions and values and fail to recognise the importance of the children spending time with each parent in an effortless and conflict free manner.

To avoid conflict at Christmas, we recommend that the parties agree to parenting arrangements ahead of time, so there is no animosity between the parents and the children during the Christmas period. Where children are of an age to express an opinion, it is important that both parties are listening to their views as to what they would like during the period. If the child/ren’s wishes are not met, it is important to speak with the children as to why they were unable to arrange Christmas in accordance with their requests, providing reasons that will help them understand.

Sometimes despite parties’ best efforts to reach an agreement, they are unable to resolve the issues on their own. In such circumstances, we advise our clients that they seek assistance from our family law team. Our legal practitioners can assist in the resolution of parenting disputes by providing them with options suited to their situation. Often disputes can be resolved by way of lawyer assisted negotiations or mediation. It is often advised that you allow up a few weeks for an outcome to be finalised.

If you would like to discuss your personal circumstances with our experienced family lawyer, please contact our office today. You can contact us on (03) 9311 8911 to organise an initial appointment at our fixed fee.

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