Embarking on the journey of separation is undoubtedly a challenging chapter in one's life, and when it occurs during the festive season, the complexities can be particularly overwhelming, especially when children are involved. In this guide, we offer insights and practical advice to help you navigate the emotional and logistical challenges that may arise during the Christmas period.
Take care of yourself
As the old adage goes, “You can’t pour from an empty cup”. Reach out to your support network, spend time doing things you enjoy with the people you love and seek professional advice where needed from your GP or a mental health practitioner.
Get your finances in order
Christmas is an expensive time of the year, compounded by the rising cost of living.. If you have a joint bank account, see if you can reach an agreement with your former partner to take out half or all the money depending on your financial situation. Set up your own bank account (if you don’t have one already) and arrange for your pay to be deposited into this account.
Reach an agreement with your former partner
Plan early and open the lines of communication with your former partner. Start talking about the arrangements for Christmas day, how the holidays will be divided between you and any other special occasions that need to be accounted for (such as birthdays and New Years). It is not uncommon for Christmas Day and holidays to be shared depending on the family. Consider the special traditions you have created for the children in the past and how you can maintain some stability for your children over this period. It is essential to place importance on prioritising the well-being and best interests of your children when engaging in discussions about parenting arrangements, not only during the Christmas period but at any time.
Record your agreement in writing
If an agreement can be reached with your former partner regarding time spending and communication with your children over the Christmas period, it is advisable to formalise your agreement in writing. At Mellor Olsson we recommend establishing Parenting Plan to document and solidify the arrangements in place for children’s care.
Stay in touch
Consider incorporating scheduled communication time with your children or child during periods when they are with their other parent. The frequency of these interactions should be reasonable and tailored to suit the respective time each parent spends with them. Prioritising communication with the children is important and shows that you are there for them even when there is a physical gap. It is crucial to maintain a positive tone when discussing the children’s experiences with the other parent in order to maintain a supportive co-parenting environment.
Start a new tradition
Separation over the Christmas period can be difficult for children and parents. Aside from maintaining old traditions, why don’t you create some new ones. Ask the children what activities they would like to do. Maybe you can visit a Christmas tree farm and pick out a new tree, or spend an afternoon doing some Christmas baking. By embracing new experiences and traditions, you can foster a sense of excitement and strengthen your relationship with your children.
If you have concerns about yours or the children’s safety contact SAPOL for assistance.
Seek legal advice
It is important to seek legal advice early to understand your rights and responsibilities during separation. At Mellor Olsson our experienced family lawyers are here to help.
If you do have any urgent issues arise during the Christmas holiday period, our family lawyer Tayla Inglis will be on call to assist. Tayla can be contacted by phone on 8414 3400 or by email at [email protected].