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Although we have just come out of the term three school holidays, the Christmas holidays are looming. The Family Court cut-off date for applications to spend time with children over Christmas is 13 November, so if this affects you, you should probably start to turn your mind to it.

What will the Court consider?

Once you have made an application for contact, the Court will consider, among other things, the following in deciding what type of order to make:

  • the child’s right to have a meaningful relationship with both parents;
  • the need to protect the child from harm or exposure to family violence and/or child abuse;
  • the child’s views;
  • the child’s relationship with each parent; and
  • the practicality of the decision.

The key thing to remember is that the child’s best interests are always the paramount consideration of the Court.

If there is risk of harm to the child when they’re in the care of one parent, the need to protect the child from harm will prevail over other considerations, such as the child’s right to have a meaningful relationship with both parents.

Will COVID-19 make a difference?

One of the considerations of the Court is the practicality of the arrangements they order. COVID-19 could become relevant to this consideration if the parents live in different states, due to the border restrictions that are currently in place. In this sort of situation, alternative means of contact include things like Facetime and phone calls.

However, if both parents live in WA, COVID-19 shouldn’t affect the orders, (unless restrictions within WA change).

Practical tips

For some practical tips about how to handle co-parenting over the Christmas holidays, you can have a read of our previous article: Christmas for separated parents – top 10 tips.

We recommend that you try to come to an agreement with your former partner about Christmas contact as soon as possible, to minimise stress. It’s also a good idea to put your arrangements in writing, to avoid any ‘he said, she said’ moments.

But remember, if you would like to apply to the Court for an order detailing your contact arrangements over the Christmas holidays, you will need to make an application before 13 November.

Need advice?

If you would like some advice about parenting arrangements over the Christmas holidays, or at any time, please don’t hesitate to contact Lynn & Brown Lawyers. We have a team of experienced family lawyers who are happy to assist with all types of parenting matters.

About the author:

Chelsea McNeill is in her fifth year of studying Law + Journalism at Murdoch University and is employed with Lynn & Brown as a Law Clerk.

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