Several months before December each year, Mums and Dads are starting to prepare for Christmas. Whilst we all want to be focused on the joy of Christmas, it can be hard for separated families. In this blog, we look at how to prepare for discussions about spending time with children and what options are available if you cannot agree.
Before we begin, it’s important to note that if you cannot come to an agreement with the other parent regarding time with children at Christmas, and you need your matter to be decided by the Court, there is a cut-off date for filing your application. That cut-off date to ensure your matter is listed prior to Christmas is the second Friday of November each year.
Christmas is always an emotive time after separation. Splitting the day can be hard; to both negotiate and then to action. The “sharing” of the children can be a difficult concept to ponder, and trying to prioritise when you want them most, can get confusing and sometimes fractious.
Is it more important to have the morning wake-up with Santa and the exchange of presents? Do we traditionally go to Church? But then, what about Christmas lunch? Where can they play with their cousins? But if I take the afternoon, then I can usually get the whole of Boxing Day.
These are often questions that separated parents are grappling with when they are trying to prioritise what they want.
As you prepare to have this discussion with the other parent, there are a few things to consider first:
What happens if we cannot agree on time spent with children at Christmas?
Alternative Dispute Resolution is still the best way to resolve disputes, particularly about a topic so emotive. If you cannot agree between the two of you, engage a mediator to assist in having a productive conversation.
Unfortunately, if no agreement can be reached at mediation, the Court will list applications to make determinations as to Christmas arrangements.
Any application to have your matter dealt with prior to Christmas must be filed prior to the second Friday in November of the year you are seeking Orders regarding Christmas. We strongly recommend you file well before this date for more certainty.
Hopefully, it does not come to this. To have a stranger decide what happens with your children, children they have never met, for such a joyous time of year has to be the last resort.
At Meillon & Bright, we have experience in negotiating many different alternatives for the Christmas period. We focus negotiations on the children and celebrating a joyous time of year with them, particularly after what has been a tough year for so many.
Family Lawyers Perth & Sydney
The information contained in this article is of general nature and should not be construed as legal advice. If you require further information, advice or assistance for your specific circumstances, please contact Meillon & Bright Family Lawyers.