On special occasions, such as Easter, some families who have recently experienced a separation or relationship breakdown might be facing a complicated predicament – “which parent has the children over the Easter/school holiday period”.  This can be a headache for families who have no formal arrangement for who the children will spent time with and when.

If you and your former spouse are in dispute as to these types of arrangements, this is what you should know:

  1. Be organised

If you anticipate that there will be a disagreement with your former spouse as to the arrangement for the children over Easter then speak to us as soon as possible.  It is often too late to negotiate time spent over the Easter period 1 or 2 weeks out from Easter.  These discussions need to commence months prior, particularly if there is no agreement what so ever.

2 Communicate

Find out what works for your children and how you might be able to negotiate with your former spouse to formulate an arrangement that works for the whole family.

Talk about the children need first and not what suits you best – you are more likely to reach a suitable outcome that way.

Reaching a mutually beneficial agreement will absolutely minimise hardship on your family, and is certainly a more time efficient and cost effective method than any court application.  This still takes time however, so start the discussions early to avoid missing out.

If you are unable to resolve your dispute amicably and you need to turn to the Court to sort out the children’s living arrangements be prepared for lengthy delays.  You may not appear before a judge for months after filing your application.

3 Be specific

Generally, most families like to adopt one of the following options:

a) The first option may be a time-sharing arrangement each year. This involves the children spending time with one parent from on Thursday to Easter Saturday and time with the other parent from Easter Saturday to Easter Monday.  These times can be interchanged for each parent in alternate year.

b) The second option may be an alternate year arrangement. This involves the Easter period being spent with one parent one year and alternating to the other parent the following year.  The children may spend time with one parent in odd numbered years and with the other parent in even numbered year.

It is also important to consider questions, such as “what if Easter falls during school holiday time”, “what if I want to travel interstate for the Easter break” and “how do we take into account Greek Easter if it falls on the same weekend”.

4 Formalise your agreement

Detailed and precise consent orders can eliminate the unnecessary stressors at a time when you and your family should be enjoying the festivities of Easter, and most importantly, a four-day break.

A consent order can be as restrictive or as flexible as you require.

Difficult questions are easily resolved through the drafting of specific consent orders that accommodate all types of families and all types of celebrations. Finalising the arrangements for your children via a consent order made by a registrar or judge of the Family Court can be a timely and cost effective process.  If you can reach agreement with your former spouse then the process will usually take 1-2 months to finalise.

Once made, the order will ensure that the unnecessary stress involved with special occasions, such as Easter and school holidays, can be avoided so that you can focus on ensuring you and your family enjoy the festivities and the fun.