As we approach the festive season, Christmas arrangement options for separated families become a topic of conversation. With many brainstorming ideas for Christmas arrangements for their children that are acceptable to all. As experienced family law lawyers who have assisted and supported separated families in reaching an agreement on Christmas arrangements for their children over the Christmas period, we provide some examples that parties can use in discussions on this issue. As each case is unique the below is not to be considered as advice but useful tips to assist with discussions.

There is no one right or wrong arrangement for the Christmas period. In our previous article, we encouraged parties from separated families involved in making Christmas arrangements for the children to remain child focused, reasonable and practical when engaging in discussions on Christmas arrangements.

Splitting Christmas Day 

One option for the Christmas arrangement could be the children spending Christmas Eve and Christmas morning with one party, before changing over after lunch to spend the rest of Christmas Day and Boxing Day at the other party’s household. Most children prefer to wake up on Christmas morning in their home or primary residence, unless they are on holidays away from home. Therefore it is desirable to consider an arrangement that allows the children to wake up in their primary residence or one where they can enjoy opening gifts with their other siblings as it is important for children to experience the excitement of opening presents with their siblings.

Alternating Christmas Days

In circumstances where splitting Christmas Day is not practical or ideal for the children, it may be worthwhile to consider alternating Christmas Day. The children can spend Christmas Eve with one party and Christmas Day with the other party, on the understanding that the parties’ shall swap the days each year. For example one party may have the children on Christmas Day in 2023 and in 2024 the other party will spend Christmas Day with the children.

One week about Christmas

Another option is to suspend the summer school holidays for up to two weeks during the Christmas period for the children to spend time with one party for up to 7 days including Christmas Eve and Christmas Day and then changeover to the other party and spend seven days inclusive of New Year’s Eve and New Year’s day with that party. The change over date can be Boxing Day or any other date/ day as agreed to by the parties. The spend time with arrangements for the holidays can then resume after Christmas and New Year. This arrangement allows for the children to spend Christmas with one party and New Year with the other party.

Two households. Two Christmas days

While not as popular as the above options, parties may also consider the option of celebrating two Christmas days. With this option, the parties can agree to nominate a day before or after Christmas Day, for example Boxing Day, for the children to celebrate Christmas with one party. The other party can hold their own Christmas celebrations on the actual Christmas Day.

Contact by audiovisual means 

Sometimes children empathise and feel guilt when spending time away from one parent, especially if that parent is alone during the festive period. To reassure the children and wipe away any guilt they may feel, the party with whom the child is spending Christmas Day with should encourage and arrange for the child or children to have some form of electronic audiovisual communication such as  WhatsApp, FaceTime or Facebook video call.

Consult with the children

The older and more mature your children are, the more likely it is that they wish to be consulted and for their views to be taken into account. The children may have their own ideas and proposals that may be more realistic, practical and acceptable to all. However, do not place the burden of making a decision on the children if there is no agreement between the parties.

For further information on Christmas arrangement options for separated families, please contact the experienced Family Law Team at New South Lawyers.

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.