The fun of family and friends is typical of the festive season. However, it can also be stressful - especially for recently separated parents. With many legal offices closed for the period, seeking advice can take time and effort. However, during these times New South Lawyers' Family Law team suggests the following tips to help you navigate Christmas and child custody arrangements and allow everyone involved to have a safe and happy festive season.

The key to easy Christmas and child custody arrangements? Communication!

If you are recently separated and unable to formally plan a parenting arrangement, we highly recommend you openly communicate with the other parent about organising an informal arrangement, gift giving, and any specific days you would like to celebrate with the children. Coming to an informal arrangement could be as simple as a week with each parent or could be more complex. There is not a ‘one size fits all’ type arrangement and you will need to communicate with the other parent to come to some form of arrangement. Do not assume what the other parents wants and any arrangements they may have in mind. Communication is key! If you have a specific day or time that you would like to spend with your children during the holiday season, we recommend communicating with the other parent as soon as possible to avoid any doubt or unnecessary stress. Be reasonable and open to their time requests and they will likely reciprocate with yours. We also recommend a short discussion with the other parent in regard to giving gifts - in order to avoid duplication. Parents should be positive and encouraging when their child receives a gift from their former partner. After all, Christmas is an opportunity to demonstrate the spirit of giving, and who better to show it to than your little ones .

Be reasonable

Separation brings a new division of time, with your children likely splitting their holidays between two houses and two parents. And it may not be reasonable to maintain the rituals, traditions, and family events of last year. Therefore, if you and your ex have specific traditions you want your children to participate in, you will need to be reasonable about the time they may need and to the time the other parent may need. As separation can be a difficult time for children it is quite important to continue these rituals even if they cannot occur when they usually would. Creating a semblance of normalcy during the holiday period is important, especially for your children. Additionally, be reasonable if your ex makes a reasonable request for extra time with the children, as you may want extra time next Christmas.

Focus on the children

Parenting arrangements should not be about who gets the most time with the children but instead should focus on maximising the time you spend with your children. Don’t focus on the things you had to forgo or couldn’t do ‘on the day’ but rather the time you have spent with your children, after all Christmas is all about the children.

Understand existing arrangements

If you and your former partner already have formal parenting arrangements in place stick to them. Do not schedule time with the children if it is not your time and ensure any travel plans you may have fit within your parenting arrangement or seek consent of the other parent first.  Ultimately, being reasonable, communicative, and focusing on your children will allow you to survive this festive season while you wait for law firms to re-open in January. However, if you are experiencing difficulties with your parenting arrangement during the festive season do not hesitate to contact the New South family law team for a full and confidential discussion.

New South Lawyers’ communications are intended to provide commentary and general information. They should not be relied upon as legal advice. Formal legal advice should be sought in particular transactions or on matters of interest arising from this communication.

To find out more, chat with a member of New South Lawyers' Family Law Team today.