The Christmas Spirit

20 DEC 2018


The festive season is upon us, though it can be challenging for some parents and children.  School holidays are about to begin but the Christmas shopping will not start until Christmas Eve.

As parents only want what is best for their children, religious holidays are periods treated as important because they involve memories that will last a life time.  

The Family Court’s approach to this is consistent with “what is in the best interests of the children”.  This may not always mean that children will get to spend half of a religious holiday such as Christmas Day with mum and dad and sometimes they will spend such occasions with each parent in alternate years.  

Sometimes an alternate year arrangement if appropriate can reduce conflict and was the case in Judd & Judd [2017] FamCA 785.    

What Can I Do?

Whist you and your ex-partner may not see eye to eye, there are ways to avoid conflict during the holiday season such as:

  • Talking to the other parent
  • Planning ahead
  • Discuss with your children your ideas so they understand what is happening and listen to their thoughts.
  • If their wishes cannot be met, take the time to explain why.  

How Can I Get Help?

There will be times where parents may still not agree and are unable to communicate in person, over the phone or even via text message. Services that may be an option are:

Family Communication Applications

Communication apps are a tool that can assist parents and broader families communicate with each other, particularly when they may not all be living in the one household. There is a range of applications which are free, allow calendars to be shared and provide messaging facilities.  Some even provide messaging services that flag or highlight any inflammatory language and will retract these words as a way of reducing hostility between people. Some examples include Divvito, FamCal, 2 Houses, Talking Parents and MyMob.


Seeking counselling or family therapy can be beneficial for both parents and children.  It can allow for an independent third party to assist and guide parents to improve their communication skills with one another.  It also gives children an avenue to open up comfortably with someone who is not their parent and also explain to them what will occur over the holiday period and if they cannot spend time with one of their parents then why. 


Seeking legal advice may be beneficial if all other options have been exhausted.  It is important to remember that the legal process can be time consuming and potentially costly. 

It is important to remember that whilst children’s best interests should be at the forefront of any decision or agreement made, going through the Court process and having a Judge determine what should happen on these events is the last resort.  This is because the Judge does not know your children the way you and your ex-partner do.

Adults have greater capacity than children to make choices and all attempts and resources available should not be wasted to ensure a good start to the holiday season. 

If you require more information on the above article contact Nevine Youssef on (02) 4626 5077 or

The contents of this publication are for reference purposes only. This publication does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Specific legal advice should always be sought separately before taking any action based on this publication.

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