Christmas can be difficult for families at the best of times, but it can be particularly difficult for separated families.

The closing date for the filing applications for parenting orders in the Family Court of Australia to be heard prior to Christmas is fast approaching. The cut off date this year is 4.00 pm on Friday 8 November 2019.

Applications may still be brought in the Federal Circuit Court of Australia, but unless there are circumstances of urgency, you may find that the application is listed for hearing next year.

If you don’t have a Parenting Plan or Court Orders dealing with the time that you will spend with your children over the Christmas break then you may be struggling with what to do about parenting arrangements, particularly on Christmas Day.

Many factors may influence your decision about what to do on Christmas Day including the age of the children, the proximity of the other parent, how amicable your relationship is with the other parent, family traditions, whether you celebrate Christmas at all and whether you plan to go on holiday over the Christmas break.

Most families are already stressed in the lead up to Christmas with extra functions, tired kids at the end of the school year and worries about shopping and planning a family get together. Here are a few suggestions that may help reduce the stress and keep the festive season festive:

  • Don’t leave it too late. Have the discussion now. If you can’t reach an agreement, then consider engaging in Family Dispute Resolution to assist negotiations.
  • Where possible, cooperate with the other parent about gift buying. No one wins where parents try to outdo each other with Christmas gifts. You may end up with a very despondent kid who has 2 Xboxes and no games!’
  • Your child/children may want to take a gift to the other parent or family members at Christmas and they may need your help to do that.
  • If your kids are little make sure they know that Santa knows where they will be sleeping on Christmas Eve. It’s something that little people may be stressing about and adults may not realise.
  • Recognise other traditions and other religious celebrations. For example, if your partner is French then they may prefer to celebrate on Christmas Eve and if your partner is
  • Jewish maybe they would prefer to have the children for Hanukkah celebrations.
  • If you intend on splitting Christmas Day, make sure changeover time doesn’t clash with family events.
  • If your partner lives a long distance away, maybe alternate years would be better a better idea to save hours of travel for all concerned.

There is no ‘one size fits all’ arrangement when it comes to Christmas Day so think outside the box and make arrangements that fit your family best.

If you have any questions about Christmas arrangements or parenting matters generally make an appointment with one of our solicitors.