Most separated parents will have a parenting arrangement in place week-to-week, whether it be on a week about basis or an alternating basis.

These arrangements can become difficult during the Easter school holiday period, when parents start making plans for the long weekend and travel away from home.

Negotiating your parenting arrangement with your co-parent can be tough when there are competing schedules and travel plans.

If you celebrate Easter for its religious connotations, this can add extra complexity when making arrangements for the Easter long weekend.

There are a few things that parents can do in advance to make the upcoming school holidays that little bit easier…

1. Make a plan with your co-parent

Prospectively discussing with your co-parent your ideas about how the children could spend school holiday periods before anything is booked and plans are set in stone is more likely to result in agreement and minimise conflict.

If you have a parenting arrangement in place that doesn’t provide for pupil free days and mid-week public holidays, discuss with your co-parent who will be spending those days with the children before the day is upon you.

Co-parents should try to agree on:

  • Where the children will be spending the holidays, if not at home;
  • How, when and where changeovers will occur;
  • Time spent with extended family members; and
  • Any extra-curricular activities, social or religious events the children will be attending.

2. Decide how the children will spend Easter Sunday

Many people celebrate Easter Sunday by attending a church service during the day. For others, Easter Sunday involves an Easter egg hunt and watching the joy it brings to the searching children. 

A common arrangement we often see for the special occasion of Easter is that one parent will spend Easter Sunday (and/or the days leading up to Easter) with the children one year and the other parent will spend Easter Sunday with the children the following year. Some parents have an arrangement whereby the first half of the school holidays is spent with one parent and the second half with the other, regardless of any special occasions that may fall within that time.

Alternatively, the children may wake up with one parent on Easter Sunday and celebrate the morning with that parent before spending the afternoon and/or evening with the other parent.

What works for one family may not work for another.

3. Communicate with your co-parent

School holidays can be a difficult time for children in separated families so it’s more important than ever that parents are able to communicate in a child focussed manner about what is in the best interests of the children. Communication does not need to be face-to-face. It is often preferable that parents discuss their parenting arrangement in writing (via email or text) as parents can refer to the conversation to cross-check plans and eliminate confusion.

There are a range of fantastic co-parenting apps parents may use, such as 2Houses (AndroidApple), FamCal (AndroidApple) and Our Family Wizard (AndroidApple), 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.

4. The best interests of the children

Above all else, consider how the children would like to spend the holidays and whether it’s in their best interests. Do not ask the children directly if they are of a young age. Where possible, try to ensure the children can see both sides of the family such as grandparents, uncles and aunts, and cousins.

5. If in doubt, take action early

If there are no Court Orders in place and parents simply cannot agree on how the children will spend the school holidays, or if one parent is withholding the children from the other, you need to act quickly. In most situations, parties are required to attend mediation to attempt to resolve their dispute before going to Court. You should contact your lawyer to discuss pre-action procedures and the best course of action.

If you would like some advice specific to your circumstances, or would like further information, please contact the Family Law team at Turnbull Hill Lawyers on 1800 994 279 or visit our contact us page.

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