Shared Parenting Over the Holidays: Avoiding Conflict

Article Kara Cook 12 April 2023

Shared parenting post-separation can be difficult at the best of times and unless you have a clear plan regarding where the children will spend their time, and when, the potential for misunderstandings and conflict to arise can be high.  Throw in the school holidays and significant occasions or family celebrations such as birthdays, Christmas and Easter and it can be difficult to navigate for separated parents.

Ultimately, the goal is always to consider the best interests of your child/children first and foremost, and to minimise their exposure to parental conflict.


How can you avoid conflict with your former partner/spouse?

1. Plan ahead. 

Rather than leaving arrangements to the last minute, and then running the risk of parents having conflicting plans, it is always better to negotiate what is important to both parents ahead of time and try to be reasonable about shared parenting arrangements.

Determine whether either parent would like to take the child/children away on vacation at a particular time of the year or whether there are any extended family events or traditions that one parent would like to continue with the children.Build these dates into a shared parenting calendar or document them ahead of time so that everyone knows in advance what the schedule looks like – including the children, who will benefit from the security of knowing where they will be, and when.

Situations or circumstances can change, so a degree of flexibility and the ability to compromise may also be required.


2. Communicate effectively.

Communication is the key in shared parenting arrangements.  Schedule dates early, add them to a shared calendar or document them in some form, and make sure everyone is aware of the arrangements ahead of time.   If changes need to be made, communicate those as soon as possible to ensure alternative arrangements can be agreed to. 

Effective communication is one of the best ways to minimise the potential for conflict to arise.  Many families who successfully navigate shared parenting prepare a calendar a year (or more) in advance.  This may not always be possible, but the more notice and time each parent has to prepare for holidays and special occasions the better.


What to do if you are already in conflict?

Not all co-parenting situations are the same and for some former partners, it can be very difficult to work together to reach an agreement over shared parenting.

With the school holidays now upon us, if you are struggling to reach an agreement with your former partner over where the children will spend their time, we can help you to resolve the issue and move forward. 

Similarly, if you think there is the potential for conflict to arise,  or you are concerned that parenting arrangements you have in place will not be followed, do not hesitate to contact the family law team at CDQ ph 02 8556 0130 to discuss the options available to you.