Christmas parenting arrangements for separated parents

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Written by Kristy-Lee Burns, Partner and Family Law Solicitor 

The holiday season is supposed to be a joyous and harmonious time for families. However, for separated parents, navigating Christmas parenting arrangements can sometimes be challenging. Under the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth), there are provisions in place to help ensure that children have the opportunity to spend quality time with both parents during this festive period. In this blog post, we will discuss the key factors separated parents need to consider and the available options for creating suitable Christmas parenting arrangements.

  1. Communication is key:

When it comes to establishing Christmas parenting arrangements, open and effective communication between both parents is crucial. Start the conversation well in advance to allow ample time for discussions and adjustments if necessary. It’s important to remember that the main focus should be on the best interests of the children and finding a mutually agreeable solution.

  1. Child focused decisions:

The Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) prioritizes the best interests of the child when determining parenting arrangements. When making decisions about Christmas arrangements, it’s essential to consider what will benefit the children the most. This may involve maintaining established traditions or ensuring they have quality time with both parents. Cooperation and flexibility are key to ensuring a positive experience for the children during this festive season.

  1. Consider alternating arrangements:

One common approach to Christmas parenting arrangements is alternating between parents each year. For example, one parent may have the children for Christmas day in even-numbered years, with the other parent having them in odd-numbered years. This arrangement provides a sense of consistency and allows each parent to enjoy special moments with the children during the holidays.

  1. Splitting the day:

If alternating arrangements don’t work for your family, another option is to split the festivities for Christmas day. This could involve one parent having the children for the morning celebrations, while the other parent takes over in the afternoon. It’s essential to communicate and plan well in advance to ensure a smooth transition and allow both parents to enjoy meaningful time with their children.

  1. Be flexible and open to compromise:

Flexibility is crucial when designing Christmas parenting arrangements. Sometimes unexpected circumstances or last-minute changes may arise, and it’s important to approach these situations with a cooperative mindset. Being open to compromise and finding solutions that suit everyone’s schedules and preferences will help create a positive holiday experience for all involved.


While navigating Christmas parenting arrangements can be challenging for separated parents, the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) provides guidance and mechanisms to ensure the best interests of the child are met. By prioritising effective communication, considering the children’s well-being, exploring alternating or split arrangements, and being flexible and open to compromise, separated parents can create a positive and harmonious Christmas experience for everyone involved. Remember, the spirit of the season is about love and togetherness, and by working together, parents can help their children cherish the joy of the holidays.


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