If you are navigating the challenging landscape of a high-conflict separation during the festive season, one of your main priorities is likely to ensure a smooth and joyous Christmas for your children. In Australia, where family law aims to prioritise the best interests of the child, your thoughtful consideration and proactive planning are crucial. This guide explores strategies to make the most of Christmas parenting arrangements, especially if you are tangled up in a high-conflict separation.

This blog provides you with insights, suggestions, and recommendations for facing the complex and unique challenges of co-parenting during the holiday season.



Child-Centric Decision Making


  • Keep your focus on your children’s needs and well-being. When you make decisions about Christmas parenting arrangements, consider what will be in the best interests of your children, both emotionally and practically.
  • Encourage your children to express their preferences and listen to their views.
  • Take your children’s feelings into account when you plan holiday activities and when you schedule your children’s visits with the other parent.
  • Where possible and age- and maturity-appropriate, include your children and their wishes.
  • Be sure to encourage your children to let you know in their own words what their notion of their best possible holiday would feel, look, and sound like.


Create A Transition Plan


  • Transitioning between households during the holidays can be challenging for children. Collaborate with the co-parent to create a transition plan that minimises stress and disruption.
  • Ensure that children have essential belongings and comfort items when moving between homes. Make lists of important items so that if your circumstances get busy or stressful, you and they can refer to their list(s).
  • Consistency in expectations and routines can provide a sense of stability during transitions.


Celebrate Together If You Can


  • If it is safe to do so and if your relationship with the other parents allows for it, consider celebrating Christmas together as a unified family. This can be a powerful and positive experience for children, demonstrating that even in separation, you and the other parent can come together for special occasions.



Open Communication


  • Establishing open and respectful communication is foundational. High-conflict separations often exacerbate tensions, but prioritizing the well-being of the children requires parents to communicate effectively.
  • Use child-focused and neutral language.
  • Keeping your discussions centred on your children’s needs rather than personal grievances.
  • Platforms like email or communication apps such as Talkingparents, AppClose or 2Houses can be useful for maintaining a record of conversations and minimizing misunderstandings.


Develop A Detailed Parenting Plan


  • If your separation is a high-conflict situation, then a comprehensive parenting plan is essential.
  • Clearly outline the agreed-upon Christmas parenting arrangements, including dates, times, and locations for visitation, changeovers, or shared parenting.
  • Anticipate potential challenges and address them in the plan to minimise disputes.
  • If you have a detailed agreement, you can reduce ambiguity, avoid misunderstandings and create a structured framework for co-parenting during the holidays.
  • A family lawyer can assist you with advice, suggestions and options that have been tried and tested in high-conflict situations.



Disagreements within your family can be complex and sensitive to resolve. The new year can be an especially difficult and sad time if you are struggling with disagreements and disputes in your family. January is known as the month in which most divorces happen.


Flexibility & Compromise


  • During the holiday season, adaptability, flexibility, and understanding are key. Unforeseen circumstances may arise, and a willingness to compromise can help to create a more amicable co-parenting environment.
  • Consider incorporating clauses in the parenting plan that allow for adjustments in scheduling with reasonable notice. Demonstrating a willingness to work together in the best interests of the children fosters a positive co-parenting dynamic.



Focus On Traditions & Shared Experiences


  • Family traditions are important, especially during the festive season. You can emphasise the continuity of your family traditions. Shared experiences during the holiday season can help to create lasting memories for your children and alleviate the stress of your separated family.
  • Collaborate with your children on creating new traditions or adapting existing traditions and rituals to suit your new family dynamic. This cooperative effort can provide a positive sense of stability and normalcy for your children.


Professional Family Mediation or Counselling


  • If your situation includes elements of high conflict, then you can seek the assistance of a family mediator or counsellor. Expert specialised professional help can be beneficial for you and your children. These professionals can facilitate constructive discussions, helping you and the other parent to find common ground and navigate contentious issues.
  • Mediation can be particularly effective in resolving disputes over holiday arrangements. This is partly because your perspective and the views of the other parent are heard and considered so that collaborative and innovative outcomes specific to your family’s needs can be reached.



If your child is resisting spending time with the other parent, it is likely that you are facing a complex, stressful and upsetting situation. Not only must you consider the needs and wants of your child, but you may find yourself in the difficult position



Respect Court Orders


  • If there are existing court orders in place, it is crucial to respect and adhere to them. Deviating from court orders without proper legal guidance can lead to complications and legal consequences.




  • You are human. High-conflict separations can take an emotional toll on you and the other parent. Self-care during the holiday season is a must.  You may need to seek support from friends, family, or professional counsellors.
  • Taking care of your mental and emotional well-being may be beneficial for you and contribute to creating a more stable and supportive environment for your children.



If you are in a situation where you are feeling anxious, confused and overwhelmed because you are tackling legal issues on your own or family matters, then help is easier to find than you might think!



Seek Legal Advice



If you are going through a high-conflict separation, then navigating Christmas parenting arrangements demands a concerted effort from you and the other parent of your children so that the well-being of your children remains front and centre. By fostering open communication, developing detailed parenting plans, and embracing flexibility and compromise with understanding, you can achieve and create a positive co-parenting environment during the holiday season.

It is crucial to keep your primary focus on the best interests of the children. There are experienced and qualified professionals available to support you. If you want to establish a more harmonious co-parenting dynamic then you can seek professional mediation or counselling, ensure that you respect court orders, and prioritise your self-care.

While high-conflict separations present complex and unique challenges, empathy, proactive planning, and a commitment to collaborative parenting can turn the holiday season into a time of joy, stability, and positive memories for your children.



If you are looking for legal solutions and support so that you can prioritise your children’s wellbeing and create a more harmonious co-parenting dynamic – and you need expert advice, book your complimentary chat with the Anumis Legal Family Law Dream Team. We understand what you’re going through and we’re here to help you. For your obligation-free chat with our expert family lawyers, call 07 5455 6347 or email admin@anumis.com.au, now. We look forward to assisting you.



If you’re looking for a family lawyer on the Sunshine Coast, check out our family law page to learn more about our services.



Nadine Love

Nadine Love is a lawyer and part of “the dream team” at Anumis Legal. She completed her law degree at Southern Cross University and received the New South Wales Bar Association Prize for Evidence and Civil Litigation. In addition to her passion for family law and therapeutic jurisprudence Nadine is also a celebrated international author, personal & business coach, drama therapist and motivational mentor. Nadine’s interests encompass swimming and walking in the rainforest with golden retriever Anu, and Australian Shepherds, Lex, and Onyx. She combines her strengths of advocacy, empathy and out-of-the box problem solving to support her clients to achieve their best legal outcomes.

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