To some, seeing Christmas decorations in the shops in October makes no sense … I completely agree.
However, as a divorce lawyer it does serve as a reminder to advise clients to think ahead to Christmas day, and what plans will need to be made to ensure that the children are able to spend the day with both parents, irrespective of the current situation between their parents.
If parents are in a protracted position and can’t agree, they should at least attempt mediation (or as it is otherwise known alternate dispute resolution) at places such as Relationships Australia or Anglicare. Failing agreement at mediation, the only option is to file an application seeking interim orders, especially with respect to the festive season.
The Family Court and Federal Circuit Court is already inundated with applications, and to guarantee a listing before a Judge to address the matter, a cut-off date to receive applications is implemented.
The cut-off date this year is 9 November 2018.
Unfortunately, for many families filing an application whilst attempting to agree an outcome doesn’t bode well. It may create suspicion in the other parent and shut down any chance of negotiating amicably. It is also a very costly exercise.
Sadly, the ones most affected by these decisions are children. For many, their parents’ inability to vary care arrangements between them, or filing an application after the cut-off date could mean missing out on one half of the family Christmas.
None of us want to see our children hurt by situations like this.
We should take a lead from the Great War of 1914-18.
It was during Christmas of 1914 that German and British soldiers, who’d been locked in months of gruesome trench warfare, did something no one expected.
They put down their weapons, met in no-man’s land, exchanged small gifts and played friendly games of soccer.
For that short time, they found a common ground to celebrate this most special time of year.
Perhaps there’s a lesson in that for us all. While the court’s deadline can’t be moved, perhaps some of us can.
Maybe now is the time to meet on common ground and try to find a solution that is in the best interests of your children – a solution which, depending on your circumstances, you can live with.