Christmas is a challenging time of year for families going through separation, 2021 has compounded this with the added stress and complexity that the Covid-19 pandemic has added to Christmas and the summer holidays.
We are out of lockdown and back on the beers, but we are far from finished dealing with Covid-19 and its impacts, more and more we are seeing families dealing with close contact notification, positive results, instructions to isolate and get tested and ramifications of this on parenting arrangements.
Here are some tips to assist separated parents deal with Covid and its impacts on the holidays:
- Stick to Court Orders or your parenting plan unless you and/or the children are isolating, have tested positive, or if you have been advised you should not comply with orders. If you do not have a parenting plan or orders, send an email with your proposal for Christmas and the long summer holidays. Having an agreed plan in writing will reduce stress and conflict leading up to Christmas.
- Communicate early and often, if you or the children have undertaken a rapid test and it is positive in most instances it is appropriate to advise the other parent. Likewise, if you are awaiting test results and changeover is coming up, let the other parent know if you that you are waiting on test results and you will advise them as soon as the results are to hand. Once you get your results advise the other parent immediately.
- Be prepared to pivot, we are all desperate to spend Christmas with our families but for some that will not be possible. If you, your ex or the children are impacted by instructions to isolate or you have tested positive, be flexible and where you can agree to make up time as soon as you are able. Be creative where you can, deliver Christmas presents to the children and organise facetime so that the children can spend time with their other parent and their extended families and can open Christmas presents together on facetime.
- Stress levels and emotions run high at Christmas; if you are upset and unable to respond appropriately to a text message or email give yourself some time. Take a breath or walk around the block to calm down. It is better to take half an hour to compile a response then to send a regrettable email or text message.
When in doubt, obtain legal advice. The Family Law Department at SLF are here to assist you parenting matters and other family law matters. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any family law enquiries.
Article written by Bridget O’Kane of our Melbourne office.