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I'm choosing not to have my kids on Christmas Day. Here's why.

Monday 12th of December 2022
By: Stephanie Svendsen, Practice Support Manager Image:

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Gillian Coote talks to Mamamia about key tips for co-parenting and special occasions

Lauren first met her ex-husband Ben when she was 21 and he was 23. At the time they were both studying, socialising and falling in love with each other. They eventually married and later welcomed two daughters.

Lauren tells Mamamia: "I began having second thoughts about the marriage a few years before we actually separated. I proposed some couples counselling which he did, but in the end I didn't feel that it was salvageable. So I instigated our separation in 2019."

When Lauren and Ben separated, their two daughters were two and five. Neither Lauren nor Ben had much of a roadmap for dealing with a divorce, as it wasn't a commonality in their wider social circle or extended family.

Somehow, they managed to make it work. Of course, it wasn't all rosy – divorce in itself can be a painful thing. But for this former couple, they were determined to keep one objective front of mind: to always focus on the kids and move forward as a unit. And it's for this exact reason why Lauren chooses not to have her kids with her on Christmas Day.

"Christmas was never a holiday that's been deeply important to me. But for my ex, it's a different story. For him and his loved ones, Christmas has a lot of resonance. Some of them are quite religious as well – so I think it would mean more to him to have the kids on the 25th."

Gillian Coote, Founder and Managing Partner of Coote Family Lawyers shared with Mamamia some of her key tips for co-parenting.

  1. Put your children first: "Cooperation is key. Conflict between parents (and grandparents), about these issues will only make the whole thing more stressful for children. At a time of year when 'joy' is supposed to be front and centre, creating or contributing to an argument about what parents want, as opposed to what might be the simplest and often the happiest Christmas period for the children, cannot possibly be in their best interests," she said. "Consider how your children would like to spend the holidays, how to maintain special traditions, and how to create new ones for your new arrangements."
  2. There's no best way to share your children at Christmas: "There's no one size fits all approach to child arrangements. For example, for people who have family living interstate or overseas, an arrangement to alternate the Christmas period can work best. Ultimately an arrangement which is practical and adapted to the individual needs of each family will be the least stressful for both parents and children. It is also important to remember not to get too hung up on Christmas Day, as children are happy to celebrate Christmas with their respective parents at any time over the holiday period."
  3. Communication: "When you've agreed on your holiday season co-parenting arrangements, communicate the plan to your children if they are at an age where they will understand. While your children – especially if they are young – might not be part of the decision-making process, they will benefit from understanding when and where they will spend their time and who they will see during the summer holidays."
  4. Alternatives to reaching an agreement directly with your ex: "If you can’t come to an agreement with your ex, you may need to seek professional advice. A lawyer or mediator can help guide you in reaching an amicable agreement for sharing the holiday season with your children that works for both parties.

If you are worried about the holidays or need advice call us on 9840 0035 and speak with a specialist family lawyer today.

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