On the sixth day of Christmas... family celebrations didn't quite go to plan

Posted by Malcolm Campbell on 02 December 2014

The school holiday period is often a catalyst for many arguments between separated parents. Sometimes this may be due to the fact that they have no formal arrangements in place regarding care arrangements for the children or alternatively, if there are formal arrangements in place such as court orders, parents may misinterpret the terms of the orders. This is especially evident when dealing with changeover locations and times. Understandably, each parent wants to be able to spend time with their children particularly on special occasions and during the festive period of Christmas. Many parents organize time off work and plan their holidays in advance to take opportunity of the extended time that they have with their children. For this reason, a simple misinterpretation of existing orders or parenting plan, can be disruptive and cause conflict between parents. The key to avoiding these issues is effective communication with your ex-partner about the intended arrangements. Good parenting requires a joint effort by both parents.  It is important to remember that parental decisions should be based on what is in the children’s best interests, keeping in mind that children have the difficult task of adapting to new family arrangements. They need to be protected from parental conflict and require lots of support and positive reinforcement.

Given that the Christmas school holiday period is due to commence shortly, now is the time to start communicating with your ex-partner regarding your plans for Christmas. The last thing that you want is to leave it to the last minute, especially if you propose to travel with the children over this period or have made arrangements in advance with respect to festive celebrations with immediate and extended family. If you tackle the issues in time, you will not be left in a position where the children miss out on spending quality time with each parent. Use your best endeavors to maintain civil communication with your ex-partner and if all fails, always remember that you can seek assistance through government funded Family Relationship Centres or private counseling services. In the event that these avenues do not assist you to solve your parental issues, you may need to seek the assistance of a legal practitioner who practices in the area of family law and would be in a position to guide you towards a resolution.

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