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Top 5 Tips for Christmas Holidays to Surviving the Holidays by OMB Family Law’s

The world will not end if the children do not see both parents on Christmas Day.

It may be best to allow the children to spend Christmas Day with one parent and Boxing Day with the other, allowing the children to enjoy time with both sides of the family without feeling rushed.

This is particularly important if seeing both parents would cause the children to spend a significant amount of time travelling between households. A common solution is to alternate the year in which the child spends Christmas or Christmas Eve with each parent.

Remember that Christmas is for the children first and foremost, so put your personal feelings, opinions and wants to the side and make arrangements that benefit your children primarily.

Changeover should be stress-free – do not fight in front of the children.

Exposure to conflict has lasting effects on children and can damage the relationship between a child and their parent.

If you believe that it likely that the other parent will become verbally or physically abusive to you when delivering or collecting the children then you must consider safe alternatives such as having a trusted friend or relative assist with changeover, or depending on the age of the children allowing them to enter their parent’s property and you remaining outside in the car or at the kerb side.

Do not prevent a child contacting the other parent.

It is important for children to have a meaningful relationship with both of the parents where at all possible. If your child wants to call their mother or father in their time with you, use your discretion as to whether timing is appropriate but otherwise you should encourage regular contact especially if the child expresses the wish.

Let them enjoy telling their other parent about all the wonderful things that have occurred in your household and allow their other parent to experience that joy. It is only a small imposition on your time, but will mean the world to the other parent.

Communicate and be flexible

Keeping an open communication with the other parent is best for the children as long as that communication is respectful. You should try to provide information to the other parent on anything to do with the children that is relevant to the other parent’s time with the children or regarding the children’s activities, schooling, health or wellbeing. Also if changes need to be made to arrangements from time to time, try to accommodate if possible provided enough notice is given.

Allow your child to take items of comfort or gifts between homes.

Particularly for young children, having favourite and familiar items with them can assist them to settle in the other parent’s home, such as teddy bears, blankets, or favourite toys, provided that there is a clear understanding between the parents that these items travel with the child and if something is left behind and the child becomes distressed, how that item will be delivered back.

Making children keep their toys and gifts at your house creates a circumstance whereby the children think something is wrong with their other parent’s home.  Allowing free passage of toys and belongings ensures that the children feel they have two homes rather than two “houses” – the difference is immense

Where problems arise, consider mediation as a first option.

Unhelpfully many services including legal services close over the Christmas and New Year period. Unless there are very urgent circumstances or there is a significant risk of harm (in which case you can contact the police), you should contact a mediation service in the New Year to arrange for Family Dispute Resolution so that 2024’s holiday period doesn’t suffer from the same hiccups that 2023 did.

If you anticipate issues, then please engage with your legal team now, to ensure that steps can be taken to progress matters and agreements reached, prior to the Christmas 2023 closure.

From the OMB Family Law family to yours, we hope that your 2023 holiday period is filled with joy and wonderful memories.  We remain available to assist you until 23 December 2022 and from 9 January 2023.  Urgent matters arising in the holiday period can be attended by contacting our Family Lawyers office on 55550000 and leaving a message or reaching out to us via our website.

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