How to cope with a relationship breakdown over the holidays

Separation - Vania Holt Legal

Christmas is such a special time. It’s the season of joy, of gift-giving, and of families united.

But oftentimes, families aren’t united. It’s common for existing cracks in a relationship to worsen over the Christmas period, and coping with a relationship breakdown over the holidays can be a significant challenge. Add children and child custody to the equation, and it gets even more complicated – not to mention heartbreaking.

Coping with a relationship breakdown over the holidays

Every couple’s situation is different, but what can couples do to cope with a relationship breakdown, divorce and separation over the holidays?
  1. Respect any existing arrangements. This provides some certainty for the children and allow the other parent to make plans.
  2. Communicate with the other parent and set well-defined plans. Planning well in advance is important, especially if travel is involved. Speak to each other to iron out any details, and talk about traditions that you want to keep or participate in as a family. Talk about things like opening presents at specific times, and gift buying. It’s important to create a positive experience and memories for the children – even if it makes you uncomfortable.
  3. Be flexible, and understand that routines can change. Try to demonstrate a willingness to be flexible and accommodate the other parent.
  1. Remember that it can be hard for children to be away from the other parent at Christmas, so encourage your former partner’s relationship with your children. Try and set times when the children can talk or Facetime the other parent, or even arrange a short visit.
  2. Mediation is worth considering. At a minimum, it can result in the parties agreeing on a Parenting Plan which sets out how the children spend time with each parent. At best, it can a provide a final outcome decided by the parties and not a Court.
  3. Look after your mental health. Consider speaking with a friend or doctor to talk about it. A doctor can refer you to a Counsellor or Psychologist who specialises in separation and can assist you with coping strategies and to refocus on what’s really important.
Coping with a relationship breakdown over the holidays

Remember, maintaining open communication with your former partner and respecting each other is key. At the end of the day, the children should always be the priority, and you should assure them and show them that their parents are committed to making the Christmas season special.

In saying all of the above, if you or your children are in immediate danger, you should leave the situation immediately if possible, or call 000. You can also find a list of support services here. If you need help from a family lawyer don’t hesitate to contact us. 

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