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Home | Blog | The Christmas Changeover

Twas the night before Christmas and outside the house,

Little Timmy sat alone in the car holding tight his pet mouse.

Mum and dad were fighting, there was no Christmas cheer,

About what time and day he was returning as dad did not live near.

They used to love the holidays where a tree would be decorated and stockings would be hung,

Now it’s filled with packing, 2 separate houses and memories that now stung.

With the summer holidays approaching it means school is over for the year and for separated families it can often mean spending time with mum and dad separately. For separated families, the decisions of parents spans much wider than what toys their children will be receiving.

Often changeover is a decision which can be minor, but for some takes a lot of consideration. Changeover is the process where the child or children are collected by or delivered to the other parent at the commencement or conclusion of their time with the child or children.

Some parents may not want changeover to occur at their respective premises due to conflict like in Timmy’s situation, safety concerns or privacy issues. A failure to deliberate on changeover options can result in a risk to the safety of one of the parties or children, a fall out between the parents or added anxiety for everyone involved.

There are options available for parents to have changeover occur that is not at either of their houses to minimise potential conflict.

Examples of possible change over places:

Grandparent’s house

Pros:

  • Parents are less likely to argue in the presence of extended family
  • Children are often very comfortable and feel safe in such an environment
  • If a grandparent agrees to conduct the changeovers, the parents have less immediate contact (appropriate in situations of high conflict)

Cons:

  • Pressure is placed on the grandparents and may result in family conflict
  • Grandparents may not always be available for changeover times

McDonalds (or fast food restaurant)

Pros:

  • Public place
  • Generous hours of operation
  • Happy atmosphere

Cons:

  • Carparks can be poorly lit and dark
  • Older children may feel uncomfortable with such a public changeover
  • Children may expect fast food at each changeover

Library

Pros:

  • Public place
  • Suitable for anxious and older children
  • Books and games are available while children wait

Cons:

  • Hours of operation are limited
  • Not always in a location convenient for both parties
  • May not be open on weekends

Sporting Event/Training

Pros:

  • The children can be left with a third party (coach, other children’s parent) during the exchange so parents don’t need to meet
  • Younger children are immersed in the game rather than the exchange
  • Public place

Cons:

  • Such a public place surrounded by friends may be embarrassing for children
  • Such a public place may be uncomfortable for parents who know other children’s parents
  • Limited to particular times that may not be convenient for both parents

Police Station

Pros:

  • Helpful in situations where there is domestic violence
  • Creates a sense of security or safety CCTV footage is often present outside the building where changeovers generally occur

Cons:

  • Unfamiliar environment for children
  • Parents believe police officers can facilitate changeover- they often do not have jurisdiction to do so
  • Can create tension between the parents

Christmas is fast approaching and for many separated families changeover plays a big role in the lives of parents and children during the holidays. There is a variety of options for different changeover locations and pros and cons to them. 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 this process on (02) 8833 2500.

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