Now that COVID-19 restrictions are easing across Australia, people are planning their holidays and family celebrations over the summer break.
If you are separated or divorced and are keen for your children to spend time with you over the summer and celebrations such as Christmas and Hanukkah, you should try to sort arrangements and make plans as soon as possible.
Parents usually share responsibility for making decisions about children, so it is up to the parents to engage with each other and negotiate appropriate arrangements for the children.
Our tips on how to try to sort plans for the children over the summer include:
- If you have court orders or a parenting plan review the document to see it says about Christmas or Hanukkah and the summer holidays
- Start the discussion now about the summer – have those discussions in person, by phone, email, SMS or use a parenting app – give dates and times
- Try to be flexible. For example, think of the Christmas period as a number days in which families can get together – the weekend before Christmas, Christmas Eve, Christmas, Boxing day and the weekend after Christmas
- Keep in mind that some cultures celebrate faith days on different days (e.g. Christmas Eve)
- Think about logistics and whether it is sensible to ask children or adults spend many hours on Christmas day driving between locations in warm weather
- If you live in different cities or states, think about travel, the costs, the government health orders and restrictions. It may be that alternating the Christmas period will work better for the children and both parents
- Try to collaborate with the other parent about purchasing gifts for the child/children and other family members. This can help avoid duplications and overspending
- If your child/children expect a visit from Santa Claus assure them that Santa knows where they will be sleeping on Christmas Eve
- Keep your child/children’s perspective in mind. They might like to spend time with their cousins, their grandparents etc. They may to want to see the other parent to give a gift in person. Young children get tired and need their sleeps
- Be realistic. It has been a stressful year for all with lock down and home schooling and some might just want some down time to recalibrate and relax
It is best to seek legal advice about your situation as soon as possible if you can’t reach agreement about the proposed arrangements. This is because:
- If you reached agreement some years ago and the children have grown, it may in the children’s best interest to vary the arrangements
- If you cannot reach agreement, a family dispute resolution provider (FDRP) can help you reach an agreement which is best for your children
- The new Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia requires that parties make genuine efforts to resolve any dispute before any court proceedings are started. There are some exceptions. Once a case is filed it may be a couple of months before it comes before the court
If you are concerned about trying to sort the arrangements about your child/children with the other parent, we recommend that seek advice as soon as possible from an experienced family lawyer.
At Hunt & Hunt our family lawyers will help you as they can advise you about how you can work out these arrangements and what options may be open to you and your family.
While we have offices in Sydney, Macquarie Park and Griffith we use Zoom and MS teams to meet with clients across the state and interstate.
If you require further assistance, please contact one of our lawyers below or visit our Family Law page here.
Partner, Accredited Specialist Family Law, Collaborative Practitioner
telephone: 02 9804 5700