Parents who separate or divorce need to resolve disputes about holiday time without hurting their children
When a relationship breaks down, parents should always put the needs of their children first. That isn’t always easy to do, but it is what Australian Family Law Courts expect. Putting kids first may require parents to make sacrifices, particularly when they decide how to deal with school holidays.
School holidays give parents a chance to spend more time with their children. When both parents want to take advantage of that time, they may end up quarreling about where the children will spend their holidays. Unfortunately, children are too often caught in the middle of those disagreements, and may feel responsible for their parents’ anger.
Putting the kids first means understanding that want to enjoy their holidays. Younger children might want to spend as much time with each parent as possible, provided the parent offers them quality time in a stress-free environment. Older kids want to be with their parents but they also need time with their friends.
Tips for resolving disputes about holiday time
If you have a parenting order in place that establishes a holiday schedule, follow the order. Even if you think the order is unfair, disobeying it will lead to problems, including potential sanctions. More often than not, your children will feel the sting of those sanctions even you are the one being punished.
If you do not have a parenting order with a holiday schedule, try to talk to the other parent about how time with the children will be divided during the school holiday. Putting the kids first means:
- Don’t ask for more time with the children than you can give them. If you will be away from home at work during the day, it may be better for the child to spend that day with a parent who will be at home.
- Don’t be wedded to the idea of dividing time equally. If one parent is in a position to take the children on a vacation and needs more time to do that, think carefully about whether agreeing to that plan might be the best way to assure that your children are happy.
- Don’t argue about the schedule in front of the children. Have that conversation privately if tempers might flare.
- If reasonable conversations are difficult, try to communicate by email. That gives you a chance to think about your response and to moderate your language.
- Don’t use the children to convey messages to the other parent. Putting them in the middle of your dispute will only make them worry.
If you cannot resolve the dispute through communication, consider mediation. If you need to obtain or to modify a parenting order, you should consider getting legal advice.
Disclaimer : This article provides basic information only and is not a substitute for a professional or legal advice. It is prudent to obtain legal advice from a family lawyer.