A Christmas checklist for separated families

By | December 5th, 2019|


Christmas truly is the most wonderful time of the year. However, it can quickly become the most terrible time of the year if planning goes awry.

Family Law issues and Christmas seem to go hand in hand. Whether you are currently engaged in a parenting dispute, or heading towards a parenting dispute, planning is essential to ensure a seamless holiday period.

That’s why we’ve updated the ‘traditional’ checklist of sending out cards & buying the tree with a modern version for separated families.

The Family Court

The Family Court of Australia is cognisant of the fact that Christmas can be a tense time for separated families. In an effort to help those people who cannot agree on what the arrangements will be for their children over Christmas, the Court instigated a filing deadline in the Family Law Rules 2004 so as to create a situation where families can seek last minute assistance of the Court to determine their Christmas arrangements.

Dividing your time

It is not uncommon for separated couples to disagree in how they will divide their time with their children over the Christmas period. Especially in circumstances where we are fast approaching the festive season, with schedules filled to capacity, it is also not uncommon that disputes of the Christmas arrangements are left to the last minute.

To help you avoid that, we’ve put together a checklist to replace the ‘traditional’ version:

The Christmas check-list for separated families:

  • Early November: if you don’t have a Parenting Plan or Court Orders, you need to have a conversation with your former spouse with regard to a proposal for spending time with the children over the Christmas break. It is important to have this conversation early to determine whether or not you can come to an agreement or whether you will need to engage lawyers and the Court to assist in reaching a resolution;
  • Early November: Christmas party invitations start rolling in;
  • Early November: If you were unable to reach a resolution during the conversation with your former spouse, you need to seek expert legal advice as to your rights and obligations. Book an appointment with a specialist family lawyer immediately. The deadline to file with the Court is fast approaching, you need to get organised;
  • Early November: Christmas cards need to be sent so they arrive in time;
  • 5 November: by now you should have met with your specialist family lawyer. You should have received advice as to how best to reach a resolution for the Christmas period without the need for approaching the Court for their assistance;
  • 8 November: if it is the case that you are unable to resolve the Christmas dispute by negotiation, you are well placed to file an application with the Court before the fast approaching deadline;
  • 11 November: filing deadline for your Family Law matter to be heard in Court with issues relating to Christmas;
  • 1 December: the tree goes up;
  • Mid-December: the kids finish school for the year and holidays start;
  • Mid December: Christmas shopping;
  • Mid-late December: last minute food shopping and gift purchases;
  • Mid-late December: if you have filed an Application with the Court, it is likely that it will be listed in mid-late December. It is not unusual for parenting matters to be listed on Christmas Eve, pending the availability of the Court. On this occasion the Court will make a decision as to what the arrangements will be for Christmas, and you will have certainty of those arrangements;
  • 24 December: the annual drive to look at Christmas lights;
  • 25 December: THE BIG DAY; and
  • 26 December: recovery, and maybe some shopping at the sales. You made it!

At Tiyce & Lawyers, we believe that timely preparation is the key to success in your family law matter.

If you believe that the parenting arrangements for Christmas may cause issues for you and your family, we highly recommend you make an appointment with us as soon as possible so that we can help you make a plan for a seamless and enjoyable Christmas break.

We wish you all a very safe and happy Christmas. And in the event that something does happen and you need help this Christmas period, we are here when you need us.

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