The festive season can be exhausting, especially when you feel obliged to divide yourself between family members and their respective houses. Children of separated parents can feel this too. For separated parents, the challenge for the season is to focus on children enjoying the time they have with each parent.
How do we make parenting arrangements for Christmas time?
In some cases there will be Court Orders or a Parenting Plan which provides for what will happen. In other cases, parents negotiate arrangements, either directly with each other, using a neutral third party, or through lawyers. It is a good idea to start such negotiations well before Christmas. If a Court is asked to make a decision it does so with the best interests of the child as the paramount consideration. Courts will normally ensure that children spend time with both parents over the Christmas period.
What sorts of arrangements are made?
Parents may seek arrangements which are “fair” to them, including arrangements where children spend time with both parents on Christmas Day. Sometimes these arrangements work well for children, but in other cases they may not.
Excessive travel may place an unnecessary strain on children. In addition, arrangements which involve multiple “handovers” between parents who don’t get along, may lead to children being exposed to conflict or, in the worst case, violence.
What are some alternatives?
More child-focussed arrangements may include
1. An early Christmas with one parent (this will allow the children to celebrate Christmas twice);
2. Travelling to the other parent’s house on Boxing Day, rather than Christmas Day;
3. The goal is to achieve “business-like” communication between you and your former spouse, for the benefit of your children.
4. Having Christmas Day together, whether at one of your homes or at a family member’s house or other venue (if you have an amicable relationship).