What happens if I have separated and don’t have arrangements in place for the children over Christmas?
Christmas is a special time of year for us to spend with family; however, it can also be a time of stress and sadness for a lot of families. Especially if you end up separated from your children on the day and can’t do that trip that you had booked or that lunch that you had planned with family because you left the planning too late.
If you have separated from your partner and you have children it is really important to think about arrangements for Christmas early so that you have enough time to ask the Court for help if you need. This is especially the case as we now have a new Family Court and a new set of court Rules which create additional obligations on parents prior to being able to commence Court proceedings and which mean you need to allow even longer to make sure you comply with the Rules.
So, what are the main things you need to know?
- The first thing you should try to do is negotiate directly with the other parent to see if you can reach an agreement;
- When thinking about Christmas try to keep the focus on the kids and how your arrangements will affect them. Even though you and the other parent might both want to see the kids, if the kids have to spend hours on Christmas Day in a car to make it fair for the parents, this might not be in their best interests. Keeping the focus on the kids and what is best and most practical for them will always be the best starting point. Think about the distance between houses, how this fits around plans with lunch and practical things like where changeover will be and who will drive (because this means no eggnog for the driver);
- If you can’t reach an agreement you should consider mediation and get the ball rolling with mediation as soon as you can;
- If you can’t reach an agreement with the other parent directly or through mediation then perhaps a lawyer can help you negotiate with the other parent/ their lawyer to reach an agreement. Sometimes a letter explaining why a certain proposal is important can help; and
- If all that fails and you need to go to Court, you will need to file any application that relates to Christmas time before 4pm on Friday 12 November 2021. This is because the Court closes over Christmas and needs time before the Christmas closure to deal with all of the parenting applications that relate to Christmas time. If you file an application after this date, the Court will not be able to hear it before the Christmas break which makes the application pointless after this time.
We usually start preparing Court documents 2-4 weeks prior to filing with the Court so this means if you are likely to need assistance with Christmas arrangements for your kids, you should be taking those steps now to make sure you and your family don’t miss out.
If you would like to find out more about Christmas arrangements, how to have that difficult conversation or what kind of arrangements are appropriate, please contact our family law team for assistance.
Please contact our family law team on 43503333.