Christmas, children, and divorce – tips on navigating a separated Christmas

5-November-2020 Family Law By Simone Green

Sadly, many families will experience their first Christmas across two households this year due to relationship breakdown. What is already a challenging time of year with its various end of year demands can also be overwhelming with the additional stresses of navigating arrangements for the children to see the other parent on special days and holidays that were once happy, shared events.

Family Law Accredited Specialist lawyer Simone Green shares some tips on how to positively navigate the post separation parenting landscape this Christmas.

Communicate early and communicate often

  • Communication may be difficult between parents experiencing the end of a relationship when emotions run high. It is essential however, to establish (where safe to do so), an open dialogue about parenting issues.
  • Avoid speaking about any contentious issues in the presence or earshot of the children.
  • Communicate in writing where possible about all arrangements for the children and keep it respectful. Putting proposals in writing reduces risk of misunderstanding.
  • There are several very useful parenting communication apps to assist in post separation communications.
  • Do not use social media as an outlet to voice frustration about the other parent’s actions, inactions, or general shortcomings as a parent or person. This can and probably will be used against you as evidence if negotiations fail and you go to Court.

Use a calendar as a visual aid

  • When trying to negotiate days where each parent will either spend time with or care for the children, using a shared electronic calendar can assist to clearly set out dates and times for ‘contact’ or other events for the children in their daily lives.
  • Try and give adequate notice of any proposal where possible.

Be realistic and child focused

  • Any arrangements made for the children over the Christmas and the school holiday period need to be focused on the child’s needs. This is a difficult period for them also being split across households.
  • Consider the ages of the children and whether block periods of time away from each parent may cause stress and anxiety for the child who may not be used to spending time away from their primary caregiver. Consider more frequent time for shorter periods and gradually increase time when appropriate.
  • Be flexible when reasonably possible. Sometimes arrangements need to change at short notice. It works both ways.
  • Where there is likely to be conflict on changeover, make alternate plans such as meeting at a public place or engaging a friend or family member to assist with delivering or collecting the children.


If you need help negotiating a parenting plan or parenting orders call our friendly family law team today on 02 8197 0105.

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