Family Law Christmas Access

It has been almost three years since I wrote Family Law Christmas and it is the article about which I get the most comments from my clients. With that in mind, I thought it time to write another pre-emptive article with the same theme.

In Family Law, December is one of the busiest months in Court with parties seeking decisions from the Court regarding access with children over the Christmas holidays. These applications range from disagreements around the exchange time on Christmas Day to seeking a Court Order to allow one parent to take the children on a family trip over the holidays. These types of issues are time –consuming and extremely stressful and should be avoided if at all possible.

As family law lawyers, Christmas access brings underlying communication issues bubbling to the surface. This, unfortunately, creates significant stress and tension at a time when families are hoping to spend relaxing holidays together. Be aware, children will pick up on this stress. Although the court system and judges are prepared to deal with these last minute applications, it is acknowledged that decisions being sought are often urgent and, consequently, leave little time for amicable negotiation and for judges to urge parties to attempt a more conciliatory approach.

Regrettably, I cannot provide concrete advice on how these tensions can be avoided other than to remind parties contemplating the withholding of consent to a family vacation or filing those court papers for an exchange of the children at 8:00 a.m. rather than noon, to try to take a step back from the “fight” and let the peace-making part of you take the lead. Use the time to think about what your kids want and what will be the most fun and appropriate for them. Know that the spirit of cooperation is something that kids can learn from by your example and may lead to further cooperation in the future.

In so far as possible, use this holiday season to step away from an entrenched position and look for a solution (even if it is not your ideal) for the benefit of your children.

Taryn can be reached at 250-869-1265 or at [email protected]

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