Whether you are just staying home for the holidays or planning to take an exotic trip, this isn’t something you decide on your own anymore.
Divorce and separation are harsh not only on the parents but on the children as well. After all, both parents have had a life before being together and can try to slowly go back to a known lifestyle.
For a child, however, having mum and dad live in two different houses is a huge shock. And it only becomes more challenging around the holiday times.
There is a slight difference between the two terms divorce and separation that needs clearing up before providing any details: divorce is an official form of separation. To be separated from your partner, you don’t need to legally inform anyone and you don’t need to put a legal end to your marriage (divorce).
Through separation you can make new living, financial and childcare arrangements. Your family lawyer is your best friend in either separation or divorce.
To get a divorce, you need to be separated with your partner for at least 12 months and one day.
As per this rule, you can see how you might be separated and still want to plan a holiday with your child.
If you are separated but not divorced, it’s mostly up to you and your spouse to work out a schedule for parental care.
Who is your child spending the holidays with?
Who the children will spend the holidays with is one of the things that should be included in a parental agreement after separation.
You don’t need to go to court to get one – just write down what you and your spouse agree on and sign it.
If there is no agreement, you will need to go to a “Family dispute resolution” centre before applying for a court order for parental responsibilities.
My best recommendation is to try your best to agree on a schedule with the other parent and the children if they are old enough to be involved in the decision-making.
Think about what arrangement is in the children’s best interests and what is reasonably practical.
Are you travelling during the holidays?
If you are planning a trip in the holiday season, it’s not only common courtesy to inform all persons that have parental responsibility, it’s required by law.
For example, if you want to take a child abroad or travel interstate, you won’t be able to go through passport control (or even apply for a passport) without the necessary letter of agreement from the other parent or a court order.
The best thing you can do before planning any holidays or booking your travel destination is to discuss your intentions with the other parent. If they give their written consent for the child’s travel, you will not need to apply for a court order.
However, you might consider that the holiday you are planning is in the child’s best interest and not be met with understanding from the other parent.
Then you can apply for a court order that will act as guarantee that you will be granted permission to leave the state or the country with your child. If the court is satisfied that it will be in the child’s best interest, it will allow the child to travel.
Before planning anything for the holiday season this year, think about what’s in the best interest of the child – spending time with their other parent or travelling with the one they see every day.
Your next step is to talk about your plans with the other parent and agree on a holiday schedule. Try to involve the child if they are old enough as well. It is always best to arrange spending time with the parents within the family so that everyone has equal opportunity to parenting.
It’s not really rocket science to plan a holiday with your children when you are separated or divorced – if both parents have the best intentions for the child’s holidays, there is nothing to worry about.
Make sure you get all programs, schedules, and agreements in writing and if needed, consult a lawyer experienced in family law and conflict resolution to make sure you are planning for a trouble-free holiday with your children.
Have you been through this before? Do you have any tips to share with us below?