It is important to remember that families come in many different shapes and sizes, and while Christmas should be a happy time where a family spends quality time with each other, where parents are separated or have recently separated, it could be a time of disappointment, confusion and loneliness.

As adults, it is the parent’s joint responsibility to shield children, as much as possible, from any disagreements or tension arising as a result of separation or divorce. Christmas is an important time when parents should try to put their issues aside and communicate effectively with each other to ensure that Christmas for their child or children is as enjoyable as possible.

You may have court orders in place in relation to how the children are to spend their time over the break, or you may have an informal understanding whereby the parents can negotiate a holiday arrangement that is suitable to all parties.

If you don’t have formal orders in place and are wondering how to make Christmas this year a more enjoyable occasion for your children, we suggest that you keep an open mind when discussing arrangements for the children with the other parent and to try and include the children in their arrangements if possible (depending on the age of the child) asking what they want to do and actually listening to their responses.

Start communicating with the other parent as early as possible to ensure that there is sufficient time to work out a suitable arrangement for the children over the Christmas break, and remember that as an adult, you have the ability to understand the situation and make suitable choices. Children may find it difficult to understand the change in the family dynamic and can often feel confused and insecure.

It is of the utmost importance that parent’s work together to ensure that children get to spend quality time with both parents over the Christmas period, and that a suitable arrangement is made for sharing time with the children on Christmas Day/Boxing Day if possible.

If you need assistance in interpreting the arrangements that your existing court orders provide for, or if you have recently separated and are having trouble finalising arrangements for the holiday period, please contact one of our friendly and experienced family lawyers on (07) 5563 8970.