Co-Parenting at Christmas
By Stone Group Lawyers on November 20, 2019
As the festive season approaches, the increase in parenting disputes inevitably arise, there are, however, ways to ensure that this Christmas ‘tis the season to be jolly’ is also child-focused. We make the following suggestions:-
1. Check you Court Orders or Parenting Plans for Christmas arrangements
Just as Santa will check off his list twice, you should do the same. Whether you have specific arrangements with the other parent in Court Orders or a Parenting Plan or you are to simply agree in writing. Now is the time to confirm with them your plans for the children’s Christmas time with you.
Ensure that you Jingle all the way to the pre-arranged changeover point as promptly as you can over the Christmas period. Christmas feasts or present unwrapping will wait for no man, women or child. Double-check that any external changeover points will be open on Christmas and take into account that it will be busier on the roads over the Christmas period. Where there are Orders in place, withholding the child even unintentionally could be considered as a contravention of those orders.
If your changeover will occur on Christmas Day, be mindful that your children may have already filled up on some delicious festive foods at breakfast or lunch, so perhaps allow them a few hours of playing with toys or a quick game of beach cricket before re-commencing their feast.
In search of a White Christmas this year? You should be aware that once a parenting application has been filed with the Court (even if no Orders have yet been made) or while a parenting Order is in force, it is a criminal offence to take a child who is the subject of that application or Order outside of Australia, except with the written and properly witnessed consent of the other party to the proceedings or Order of the Court permitting the travel. The maximum penalty for taking a child outside of Australia without that consent or an Order is three (3) years’ imprisonment.
Provide the other parent with an itinerary or flight details and confirm how the other parent will be able to communicate with the child whilst overseas. Don’t forget to confirm whether or not you will be travelling to a Hague convention signatory country as this may trigger a provision within the parenting orders (if any).
Tis the season of giving! If you can effectively communicate with the other parent, you should consider confirming what gifts you will each be giving to the child to avoid doubling up or perhaps even consider giving a joint present. After all, what is Christmas if it isn’t a time for forgiving and celebrating. Don’t forget to confirm with Santa what presents will be arriving to which household on Christmas morning too, the big guy in red has enough to worry about on Christmas Day as it is.
5. All is Calm, All is Bright
Children observe everything, so try to encourage and foster strong childhood memories of their Christmas. You may have disagreements or problems you have with the other parent, however Christmas time isn’t the time to bring them up, instead maybe consider giving a small gift to the other parent, like a Christmas photo of the children or ornament that your child made.
6. Home for Christmas
It won’t always be possible for the children to spend time with a parent over Christmas, in these circumstances, do your very best to facilitate communication between the parent and child on Christmas Day or take the opportunity to have your children send the other parent a small gift or letter in the mail.
7. If all else fails
Call us on 1300 088 440 to discuss your options. Keep in mind that if you can’t reach an agreement for Christmas, the cut-off date for filing Court Applications for Parenting Arrangements over Christmas is 15 November 2019 (i.e. the second Friday of November pursuant to Rule 5.01A of the Family Law Rules 2004). Except in cases of urgency, any applications filed after this date will likely be heard after Christmas. As such you should consider alternative dispute resolution options for finalising Christmas Parenting Arrangements which we can advise you of further.
From the Family Law team at Stone Group Lawyers, we wish you a happy and safe Christmas.