For most people, Christmas is a very important time of the year and if you have yet to sit down with your former partner to discuss Christmas, now is the time to do so. When discussing Christmas arrangements with the other parent, it is essential that you ask yourself these important questions:
- Will the children spend time with each parent on Christmas Day and if so, where is changeover going to take place?
- Alternatively, will one parent spend the entire Christmas Day with the children this year and the other parent spend time with the children on either Christmas Eve or Boxing Day? If this is the case, will the parent who does not spend Christmas Day with the children this year be given the opportunity to do so next year?
- What arrangements are going to put in place for the balance of the Christmas School holidays? Will the children spend half of the school holidays with one parent or will they spend week about time with each parent?
When considering the above questions, it is important to keep in mind that Christmas is also a time where extended families come together. So in addition to the above questions, parents should consider whether this year is a particular year where one side of the family usually enjoys Christmas together and if so, children should also be given an opportunity to spend time with extended family members.
Whilst most parents will be able to reach an agreement between themselves, in the event that parents are concerned that an agreement will not be reached, now is the time to commence discussions. There are Family Dispute Resolution (“FDR”) services available to assist parents in trying to reach a resolution about parenting arrangements and these services include the Family Relationships Centre and Relationships Australia however please note that there is a waiting period to attend mediation. Alternatively, there are private Family Dispute Resolution practitioners who charge for their services although there is usually a shorter waiting period.
If an agreement is still not reached, parents can make an Application to the Court to seek Orders for the children’s time with the parents over the Christmas Schools Holidays. However, this Application to the Court needs to be made by 4pm on Friday, 8 November 2013 and except in particular circumstances, the Court requires parties to attend Family Dispute Resolution prior to making an Application.
If you have any concerns about what your arrangements will be over the upcoming Christmas Holidays, you can make an initial appointment with our office today. And remember, do not leave it until the last minute.