Two Happy Households

The Family Law Courts send a circular out to legal practitioners in November each year stating that only urgent children’s applications will be listed in December.

Why is this?
Because the School “Christmas” Holidays are a time where emotions heat up and separated parents often fall back into conflict when trying to negotiate time with their children over Christmas.

A wise colleague of mine was going through a marriage breakdown.  He spoke to me during the early stages, as a friend - not a lawyer, and when I asked what plans he had for the children, his resonating comment to me was that their goal was to reassure the children that Two Happy Households was better than one unhappy home.

Parents who separate are often referred to useful links and fact sheets on various service web site such as Relationships Australia, the Family Law Court and/or the Federal Circuit Court  that aim to guide and assist them through the minefield that is co parenting when separated.  The common theme in this literature and, in fact the whole Family Law Process, is to look at what is in a child’s best interests.

All children have a right to know and have a relationship with both parents (and special people like grandparents) 

And this at time of year, no matter what you are celebrating; be it Hanukkah, Family Day; Pancha Ganapati; Saturnalia; Eid Al-Fitr; Eid Al-Adha; Kwanzaa; Yule; Onisoka; Three Kings day; the Fiesta of Our Lady of Guadalupe; Zarathosht Diso;  Rohatsu or Christmas it is the children’s joy and happiness that should be your focus.

School holidays span 6 – 8 weeks between December, January and February; depending on what State you live in.  There is more than enough time in those weeks for your children to enjoy the benefit of two (or even more) happy households.

Let them celebrate the special day/event/occasion twice, they are children.  If a ‘special visitor’ like St Nicholas is involved, he can deliver after the event.  Imagination, whimsy and fun are what is required.  Not angst, fighting and tears. 

If you have parenting orders or a parenting agreement that sets out the arrangements – follow it.  If you are able to agree to have time with the children that enables them to get the most out of their holidays – then do so.

If there is intolerable conflict, don’t just unilaterally take action.  Don’t just remove or retain a child .  Communicate via text message or email or use an app like the talking parents website to get though this period.

Family Dispute Resolution or mediation is a service that is in place to assist parents to resolve or narrow their differences.  Utilise it if you can.

If all else fails, retain a lawyer to communicate your proposals.  Sometime you may feel that total compromise and bending over backwards will be the only way to secure or achieve time with children over this period.

But does the child know that? No.  All the children will know is that they get to spend time and communicate with significant people in their lives over this joyous period.

Take a breath before you act with emotion at this time of year and remember, Two Happy Households.

The information contained in this article is not legal advice.  If you have a legal problem you should talk to a lawyer before making a decision about what to do.

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