The information provided below is general in nature and should not be relied upon legal advice. You should call 03 5445 1000 and speak to a lawyer at OFRM about your particular circumstances.

Parenting arrangements at Christmas

It's a wonderful time of year... so the saying goes but in the world of family law Christmas can often be one of the hardest times. Whether a relationship is on its last legs, or the split is new or it is one of many Christmas seasons you have spent apart arrangements can often still be difficult.

Christmas time means you don't have to deal with your own emotions and those of the kids but also the thoughts of extended family and friends. Everyone seems to have their own agenda and thoughts on what should happen.

So what is the legal situation regarding arrangements for the children over Christmas?

In the absence of court orders, the arrangements are what you can agree to. Many people will be left to this as the courts have a cut off date for applications regarding Christmas — they need to have been filed by mid-November.

Mediation can be a good way to try and reach an agreement, allowing people to work through the issues, often coming up with an alternating arrangement over a few years.

I always suggest to clients trying to avoid travel on Christmas Day. While everyone would dearly love to spend any time with their kids on Christmas Day, just think about how crazy the roads can be, how emotions are charged, how a changeover in the middle of the day would add to the drama. Maybe taking year about is much more sensible way to go.

Hopefully you have Christmas sorted for this year. If it feels like things aren't quite right with Christmas this year maybe it you can make it a new year resolution to try and work on better arrangements for 2015.