With the Christmas break fast approaching, there may be some housekeeping you need to attend to. Below, we focus on some traps in the lead up to, and following, Christmas. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Notice of annual close-down
A number of industrial awards include a term similar to this:
An employer may require an employee to take annual leave as part of a close-down of its operations, by giving at least 4 weeks’ notice.
If you close your business down over the Christmas/New Year period, we recommend you review your arrangements with your employees and give proper notice to them of any anticipated shut-down.
Statutory Demand – Plan for your company’s registered office to be attended over Christmas/New Year
This is a trap we have seen play out in recent years. Given the trading conditions some businesses have experienced in the last 20 months, it may be prudent to take steps to eliminate this risk.
If a creditor (so alleged) of a company serves a Statutory Demand under the Corporations Act on the company’s registered office, the company has only 21 days within which to respond to the Demand (including disputing the demand), or it is deemed to have committed an act of insolvency and may be wound up.
The trap is if the Demand is served by post on an unmanned “registered office“.
For example, the registered office is your home address. You leave for holidays on Thursday 22 December. The Demand is served on the registered office by post on Friday 23 December. You return from holidays on Monday 16 January, by which time:
the company is deemed to have committed an act of insolvency,
has lost its right to set aside the Demand and
is very vulnerable to being wound up.
To stave off the winding up, the company may have no alternative to paying the amount claimed in the Demand.
Given the trading conditions some businesses have experienced in the last 20 months, this Christmas may not be the time to take this risk.
Recently separated parents – planning for the Christmas and school holidays?
It is that time of year when things can become a little more tense for separated parents as plans for Christmas and school holidays are negotiated.
If you are a recently separated parent, here are some tips which may assist you:
Step 1 Plan ahead
If you are getting on reasonably well with your co-parent, have a discussion as soon as you can in an effort to reach agreement regarding holiday arrangements. Generally, the earlier everyone knows the arrangements, the more secure you feel – including your children.
If you are not getting on so well with your co-parent, particularly if there is an element of mistrust, you may consider entering a written agreement with your co-parent – a Parenting Plan. These plans set out the terms of the care arrangements and provide structure for both parents to follow. Once again, the earlier such a plan can be entered into, the more secure everyone feels.
In relation to parenting plans, a typical arrangement is something like this, the children
spend Christmas Eve and Christmas Day morning with one parent; and
Christmas Day afternoon and Boxing Day with the other parent.
The benefit of a parenting plan is that it is not legally binding, and therefore can be more easily amended, and provides both structure and flexibility for separated parents.
Step 2 Get to know where you stand legally
There is no entitlement to an equal division of time for Christmas. In the Family Court system, each case is determined on the individual circumstances of the family, with the Court considering the benefit for each child having a relationship with each parent and the nature of that relationship.
From a practical perspective, the best thing for both parents to do is to remain child focused. This means try to consider what arrangements will place the best interests of the children ahead of your own interests or feelings.
If where your children spend Christmas is not clearly outlined in a parenting plan or parenting orders and you can’t agree on the times, you are required to attend mediation first to attempt to resolve the issue.
If mediation fails, you can apply to the Court to determine the issue. You would need to do this well before December as your matter may not be heard before Santa and his sled arrive.
Step 3 Communication
Communicate with your co-parent in writing so you can refer to those arrangements at a later date.
There are a fantastic range of co-parenting apps parents may use, such as My Mob, 2Houses (Android, Apple), FamCal (Android, Apple) and Our Family Wizard (Android, Apple), that create a platform for parents to co-ordinate schedules, send requests to vary arrangements and communicate about all things in relation to the children.
You could always make plans via text and email. Whatever communication method is chosen; the aim is to shield your kids from the conflict between yourself and the other parent to prevent what can sometimes be irreversible harm caused to your child’s emotional and psychological wellbeing.
Step 4 Be reasonable
Regardless of what has happened between you and the other parent, it is important not to criticise the other parent when talking to the children.
You need to accept that your children love the other parent, and the relationship that they have with that parent must be protected. By criticising the other parent, you can impose stress upon your children who might feel torn between pleasing both you and the other parent.
A counsellor can offer helpful advice on how to cope with difficult relationships. A lawyer can offer legal advice and assist with negotiations for parenting arrangements.
Tips for a child-focused and happy Christmas holiday
Are there Christmas plays, concerts or activities coming up which need to be communicated to both parents?
Make Christmas time a happy childhood memory. One of the most important issues for children’s mental health is not to be exposed to disputes between their parents. It is suggested that exposing a child to domestic violence is a form of abuse, regardless of whether the child is a target of such violence or not.
What would the children prefer to happen on Christmas day? Is splitting Christmas day in half what the children would likely prefer? Or would they be happier not to travel on Christmas day – instead, spending Christmas with one parent one year and with the other parent the next year? Would the children be excited to see bothparents, grandparents or other people who are important to them on Christmas day?
If you have your children on Christmas Day, encourage them to have meaningful contact with the other parent through the course of the day via Skype, Facetime or by phone.
If you don’t have the children on Christmas Day, make plans with friends and family ahead of time.
If one parent has issues affecting the children’s safety, such as drug and/or alcohol problems, is there someone trusted who might supervise the time?
Would you let the children take some of their gifts to the other parent’s home?
Can the children give a gift to the other parent?
Have you planned holiday activities and outings and taken time off work?
Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or would like any further information.