The holiday season is meant to be a time of joy and celebration, but for parents navigating family law disputes, the Christmas holidays can bring added challenges. It’s crucial to understand your obligations under parenting orders pursuant to the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) during this festive period, ensuring a harmonious and enjoyable experience for both you and, most importantly, your children.

Understanding Parenting Orders

Parenting orders are legal documents that outline the arrangements for the care, welfare, and development of a child after the separation or divorce of their parents. These orders can cover a range of issues, including living arrangements, visitation schedules, communication, and decision-making responsibilities.

It is essential for parents to familiarise themselves with the specific terms outlined in the parenting orders and ensure strict compliance. Failure to adhere to these orders may result in legal consequences. If circumstances change and adjustments are necessary, it is advisable to seek legal advice and, if required, apply to the Court for variations of the parenting orders.

Rule 5.03 of the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia (Family Law) Rules 2021 provides that, in order to seek parenting orders that provide for the end-of-year school holidays, you must put on that application by the second Friday of November.

Putting the child’s best interests first

The festive season can be emotionally charged, but amidst any personal disputes, keeping the child’s best interests at the forefront is essential. Parenting orders are designed to safeguard the well-being of your children. The cornerstone of parenting orders is the principle that the best interests of the child must be the paramount consideration.

Plan and Communicate in Advance

Planning ahead is key to avoiding last-minute conflicts. Review your parenting orders to understand the specific arrangements for the Christmas period. If appropriate, and as prescribed in your parenting orders, communicate effectively with the other parent well in advance to discuss and confirm the holiday schedule, including details about pick-up and drop-off times.

Flexibility and Compromise

While parenting orders provide a structure, it’s important to approach the holiday season with a degree of flexibility. Unforeseen circumstances may arise, and being open to compromise can go a long way in creating a positive atmosphere for your child. If changes are necessary, discuss and agree upon them amicably, considering the child’s needs.

Maintain Consistency for the Child

Consistency is especially important during the holidays. Strive to maintain established routines and traditions as much as possible to provide stability for your child. If there are specific traditions that the child enjoys, consider incorporating them into your plans, ensuring a sense of continuity during this special time.

Respect Communication Boundaries

While communication is crucial, it’s equally important that you and the other parent respect each other’s boundaries. Ensure that discussions about holiday arrangements remain focused on the child and do not devolve into personal disputes. If not already provided for in your parenting orders, use written communication if necessary and keep a record of agreements to avoid misunderstandings.

Embrace the spirit of the season by encouraging and facilitating contact between the child and the other parent.

Encourage and Facilitate Contact

Be proactive in sharing information about holiday events, school activities, and any special moments, fostering a sense of shared parenting responsibility.

Navigating parenting orders during the Christmas holidays requires a collaborative and child-focused approach. By prioritising your child’s best interests, planning and communicating effectively, maintaining consistency, and fostering a positive atmosphere, you can contribute to creating memorable and joyous holiday experiences for your child, even in the midst of family law disputes.


In navigating the complexities of parenting orders during the Christmas period, Ramsden Family Law is here to provide expert guidance and support tailored to your unique family situation. Our experienced team understands the importance of putting your child’s best interests first.

If you find yourself needing legal advice, assistance with variations to parenting orders, or guidance on family law matters, we are ready to help. Do not hesitate to contact us and let us guide you through the legal intricacies, ensuring a smoother and more secure path for you and your children.