It’s that time of year again. The annual trip to Officeworks. The smell of fresh shoe polish overwhelms the laundry and a time when we realise there is again no leftover contact for the school books from last year… as usual.
Before you know it another school term has flown by and it’s school holidays again. But as you sit there having made what seems like endless sandwiches for the first day back you begin to think what plans have been made for the children next holidays.
Are there arrangements with my ex to spend time with them next holidays? Is he working or taking time off? Who will the kids spend Easter with this year?
The rush from school holidays to get back into routine can take a couple of weeks to get use to but leaving things to the last minute as to who the children will spend time with can make things more difficult for all involved.
Here are 5 tips when thinking about school holidays and who the children are going to spend their time with?
If you know what you want in advance or what the other parent wants. This allows you both enough time to work out a mutual agreement. There’s nothing worse than leaving things to the last minute and then the other person doesn’t agree or has other plans. For example, you may both wish to travel with the children over the same period of time. Unless this is communicated early on, there may be issues sorted out regarding when one party’s time ends and the other’s begins.
It is very common during the shorter school holidays for both parents to be working. It is important that arrangements are made for the children, particularly younger children who should not be left alone without adult supervision. Grandparents, aunties, uncles and family friends may be an option. Another suggestion is daycare or school holiday programs. It is a good idea to make enquiries early on as spots can fill up quickly for specific programs close to where the children are living.
It’s not about you it’s about the children
In the Family Law arena the first question is always ‘what is in the best interests of the children?’ Most parents will try to accommodate this as best as they can for their children. It is crucial that this remains the focus for parents and that they do not get bogged down in the amount of ‘hours’ they get to spend with their children because that is how many the other parent got last time. Parents can often let the little things shadow the bigger picture which can make negotiating and coming to an agreement take longer.
What if we can’t agree?
Not everyone is going to agree on what the best interests of their children are and many parents have different parenting styles. When it comes to where the children are to spend time there are a variety of options available to reach an agreement. Some examples include negotiations between the parents, negotiations between lawyers, mediation, arbitration, consent orders or starting court proceedings. It is vital to remember that these processes can take time and that such requests should be dealt with well in advance.
Often parents will come to an agreement where the school holidays generally only last 2 weeks. However what about the holidays after that and then again after that and then before you know it it’s time to start thinking about Christmas holidays again where you would like to take the children on 2 week long cruise. Again, the key is to plan in advance and communicate either with your ex-partner or a lawyer. A simple process may be able to take place where Consent Orders are agreed to rather than going through lengthy and expensive Court proceedings.
Our family law department at our Parramatta office and Accredited Family Law Specialist, Catherine Parks can assist with any concerns or options in relation to school holiday arrangements or school term arrangements for your children. Contact her on (02) 8833 2500.