Will I get to see my kids for Christmas?

School holidays can be a stressful time of year for parents who are separated.

Are you concerned that the other parent might not allow you to spend time with your children over the holidays? Are you and your former partner arguing about who the children should live or spend time with?

Has it been a while since you have seen, spoken to, or spent time with your children?

Do you have concerns about the other parent taking the children away from you?

Before you can start proceedings in court, you must attend mediation with the other parent and make a genuine effort to try and resolve the matter. An agreement which is in the best interests of the children can then be ratified by the court by filing an Application for Consent Orders.

You may be exempt from mediation if your matter is urgent, there are issues or a risk of child abuse or family violence, a parent cannot effectively participate due to incapacity or physical remoteness, or your application relates to an alleged contravention of an order made within the last 12 months.

It is important – and in the best interests of the children – for parents to resolve issues about their care and living arrangements as quickly and as cost-effectively as possible.

Here are some tips for managing the holiday period:

Don’t leave it too late to discuss arrangements. Both parents need time to organise time off work and plan holiday activities. The closer the holidays get, the higher the stress levels are, so be sure to reach reasonable agreements in advance if possible.

What works for one family, might not work for another family. Focus on what is in the best interest of your children and offer proposals that benefit the children, rather than what is convenient for you. You will have a better chance of reaching an agreement that both parents can live with and which benefit your relationship with your children.

If one of the parents has issues with drugs or alcohol, or if there are other concerns about the safety and wellbeing of your children in that parent’s care, consider offering supervised time with that parent (depending of course on the nature of the risk to the child). The supervisor can be a relative, a mutual friend, or an independent third party.

Remember that you, as the adults, chose to separate but the children did not. Your responsibilities as parents are to facilitate a meaningful relationship between the children and the other parent.

So try to compromise and find solutions which are in the best interests of your children. After all, despite your differences as former partners/spouse, both of you would want your children to have a happy Christmas and fond memories of the day. Only YOU can make that happen for your own children.

We understand that separation can be a very stressful time for you and your loved ones. For more information on how we can help you with a divorce or separation or any other family law matters, call us at 1300 CORNERSTONE or 1300 267 637 or send an email to us at info@cornerstonelawoffices.com.au

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