For a lot of us Christmas is one of the best times of the year, as families come together and enjoy one another’s company, delicious food and of course presents. But for some families with separated parents, Christmas can be a really difficult time.

Separated parents often panic when an agreement is not in place as to who, what, when and how their children will spend Christmas time and it is a very understandable anxiety and stress. It’s particularly important to focus on your children’s best interest and avoid children becoming caught in the middle.

In the lead up to Christmas separated parents should as best as possible plan for Christmas arrangements ahead of time whilst communicating effectively and reasonably. Here are our five helpful tips from the Snedden Hall & Gallop Family Law team for planning and organising the festive season:

1. Be open to creating new traditions

With new family dynamics, what previously happened at Christmas time may no longer be possible or realistic. Use this as an opportunity to brainstorm and discuss with your children what new traditions you would like to create together.

2. Remember Christmas can be celebrated on other days

It is important to arrange times effectively so that your children are not rushing between two households. You want your children to enjoy Christmas and spend quality time with their family. Alternate year Christmas Eve or Boxing day celebrations are just some options you might want to consider limiting the travelling back and forth. There are no right or wrong arrangements.

3. Rethink the season of ‘giving’

If you and your former partner are arguing over a particular changeover time in the arrangement, think about whether an extra hour here or there is really going to make a difference. Give a little to keep the holidays a special time for your children.

4. Keep the dispute away from your children

You may not get along with your former partner, but it’s always best if your children don’t know this. Make sure that you and your extended family speak as respectfully as possible about your former partner, particularly around your children.

5. Communicate the plan to your children

Christmas is not just a difficult time for separated parents, it can be difficult time for your children. Once you have reached an agreement it should be communicated to your children, so they know what is happening in advance to minimise confusion and create certainty. You might want to prepare a Christmas time calendar so your children can clearly see where they will be at any one time during the holidays.

We understand that jointly made arrangements are difficult to achieve after separation and we can help you through this process.

How can we help?

If you need help ensuring the best possible arrangements for your children are in place, our Family Law team can help set you on the right track and guide you through the process. Contact us on 02 6285 8000 or by email.