Newly divorced and separated parents are being urged to be mindful of their children as they adjust to new child care arrangements over the Christmas and holiday season.
Slater and Gordon Family Law National Practice Group Leader, Ian Shann, said while many parents would be separated for the first time this Christmas, they should not let the pressure of new arrangements affect their child or children’s welfare.
“Despite the best efforts of both parents, Christmas custody arrangements can be a source of tension which children might detect. Parents must make sure that they communicate with each other and plan the holidays ahead,” Mr Shann said.
“It’s reasonable to want to spend time with your children, however it is likely that the other parent will want to do the same. Avoiding this clash of expectations is the best way to ensure holidays and special events are stress free for parents and their children.”
The following tips are recommended to avoid conflict and tension over Christmas and the summer school holidays:
- Don’t leave holiday arrangements to the last minute – plan ahead
- Stick with the arrangements agreed between yourselves or ordered by the courts
- Don’t argue in front of your children or with the in-laws
- Protect your children from harm, and
- If the children are with your separated partner on Christmas, have another Christmas celebration when you see them.
Mr Shann also warned families travelling interstate or overseas to check if the terms of any court orders or parenting plans clashed with those arrangements.
“Planning to travel interstate or overseas during the long summer break could cause legal headaches for parents with shared custody arrangements,” he said.
“Very often, separated parents have Christmas and school holiday arrangements spelt out in court orders or a parenting plan. If there is going to be a clash between the plans for Christmas holidays and the current requirements then it’s essential that an agreement is reached with the other parent well in advance of the planned holiday.
“The more open and organised you are about your plans for a holiday, the less likely you are to upset other family members.
“The breakdown of a relationship or marriage can be stressful and difficult for everyone involved, particularly as the holiday season approaches.”
Anyone requiring more information about child care arrangements and how it would be applied to individual situations should seek advice from a lawyer.