For most of us, Christmas is a time for the family to get together. For families involved in legal disputes this can sometimes be difficult, and often it can be sad or frustrating for parents if they don’t get to spend as much time with their children as they would like.
When parents are in dispute about their children, courts always try to ensure that orders are made about the time children spend with their parents at Christmas. The Family Law Act says that ‘In deciding whether to make a particular parenting order in relation to a child, a court must regard the best interests of the child as the paramount consideration.’
Sometimes it is hard for parents to think about what is best for their children because they are also thinking about what is best for themselves. For children Christmas is usually a fun, exciting and magical time. Most of what we do at Christmas is focused on the children in our society. Think of all the charity gift giving initiatives that we hear about at this time. They are mostly about ensuring children have a good Christmas.
Children don’t want to have to spend Christmas day doing long car trips between parents. They don’t want to see their parents in a bad mood, or worse, arguing, when they change over at Christmas. They don’t want to be stuck somewhere strange with people they don’t really know, away from family and friends.
It is important to think about what is best for the children at Christmas time when making arrangements for them to spend time with their parents who have separated. Increasingly, separated parents are agreeing to each spend every second Christmas with their children. This means the children don’t have to travel or have a changeover on their special day. There are many ways to make Christmas time special for our children. We just need to stop and look at it through their eyes to make sure their best interests are paramount.
Baldock Stacy and Niven can help if you have a dispute about your children. We can help get an agreement or court orders about the time each parent spends with their children at Christmas, and at all other times of the year.