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Divorce & Separation

Practical tips for spending Christmas Day without the children

Being without your children on Christmas day can be an overwhelming experience.

Whilst some families can put their differences aside, others find it hard to work around the issues in the background and can’t find a way to share the time together properly.

In addition to any feelings you might be experiencing, the children are also feeling a similar pain dealing with the separation and circumstances surrounding it.

Here are some tips to try and get through it.

Set some expectations

If the decision is amicable, or where time must be determined by a Court, it is vital to understand the children’s feelings and wants and make them a priority where possible.

  • Plan as early as you can! This will ensure that there aren’t any mishaps in communication or he said/she said scenarios that can upset the time for the children
  • If time cannot be agreed on, consider mediation or a counsellor as a method to work out a plan, Courts can be involved if needed but applications take time to process and can impose a negative impact on what is trying to be achieved
  • If you know you won’t have your kids, prepare yourself as best  you can mentally & emotionally. Try surrounding yourself with people that can keep you positive
  • Prepare the children. Reassurance and positive support from both parents will help the children to feel relaxed and not worried about the absent parent

What are some other ways to celebrate Christmas without the kids?

You haven’t got the kids this year, why not re-invent your Christmas.

  • Spend time with friends or family
  • Meet up with other friends that maybe don’t have kids
  • Head somewhere you’ve never been to before and spend a Christmas with yourself
  • Do nothing at all and just enjoy ‘you’ time, knowing that you will be seeing them again soon

Forget your feelings for now and remember what the children feel…

Separated or divorced families have a lot of dynamics to deal with in terms of the family circle, and Christmas can exacerbate those emotions. Make a choice to focus on what the kids want, and try not to worry about what each parent is going through.

  • Let them confidently spend time with their grandparents, cousins, and other family members, it will help them to grow and form positive relationships
  • When discussing time away from you with the children, ensure to frame the experience as a positive. Avoid using negative phrasing where possible and just make them feel like it’s going to be a great experience
  • Always try and be positive about the people they will be surrounded by, your emotional fight isn’t with them, don’t let them feel like it is

Engage with your children

The great part of our generation is the ability to be able to stay in touch virtually. The internet gives us voice and video access to our kids when we are apart, so why not use it!

  • Call them or video call them when possible . It is recommended to schedule this with the other parent, so it doesn’t disrupt their plans and so the children have dedicated time to spend with you on the phone
  • Try and figure out where their feelings are and make them the focus of the conversation – keep it happy and positive where you can
  • Listen to them. Acknowledge them if they aren’t having fun or are upset and try and turn it around for them
  • Respect your ex. You’re both parents to the children, the time you have with them is just as important as the time they have with your ex-partner

Get back to ‘you’

Regardless of wherever your life is at with your separation, and whatever time you do or don’t spend with your kids. By keeping  yourself positive you will be able to support your children in a more positive way.

If you don’t see the kids this Christmas maybe you could:

  • Pick up that book or binge the series you always wanted to
  • Go camping or fishing (or anything really!)
  • Take a course and study something you are interested in
  • Meet up with friends and socialise
  • Crack that 10,000-piece puzzle out and tear your hair out!

The time, whilst not the best without your kids will pass and you will see them again. Just try and make as many positive choices as possible during this time and hopefully it will fly by and they will be with you again.

We are here to help

If you find yourself reading this and you simply don’t think you are getting enough time with your children, or would like to discuss legal arrangements about the children, please click here to book time with Jan and the team to work it all out for you.

Domestic Violence

The Lighthouse Project

Did you know that the Courts have devised a plan to better help the families experiencing domestic violence?

In December 2020, Chief Justice Alstergren launched the Lighthouse Project as a mechanism to identify families at risk and experiencing Domestic Violence and provide help quickly to help the most vulnerable.

He says “the level of family violence in our society is a disgrace.”

The $13.5 million scheme has developed a triage system where early risk screening is performed via an online platform called the Family DOORS Triage.

The Project has a three- step process:

  1. Screening:

This is an online survey that is performed by the Family Doors Triage. It is a series of confidential questions that can be completed on any device.

2. Triage and case pathways:

A specialised team will assess the answers and categorise them according to: High, Medium and Low. This allows the family counsellors and Registrars to make recommendations and triage cases (like a hospital system). They are highly trained and have experience in family violence and ‘family safety risks’.

3. Case Management:

There are three streams that the case will be referred to. The Evatt List, Other Case Management and Alternative Dispute Resolution. According to the answers provided, a family’s case will be allocated accordingly to get the help when and where your family needs it.

How does this relate to how my case will be assessed in the Court room?

Ten specialist judges are now allocated to high- risk cases and integrate additional support with registrars, family counsellors and consultants.

This means that additional training and support are supplied to the judges presiding over matters concerning family violence and other serious issues.

Currently the new system has commenced trial in the Federal Circuit Court in Adelaide, Brisbane and Parramatta. The scheme has also been rolled out to the Family Court of Australia in early 2021, with a view to make this a national scheme. The merger of the Federal Circuit Court and the Family Court of Australia will also impact these developments that will be reported in the coming weeks.

For more information on the project see:


Media Release:


If you or anyone you know are experiencing domestic violence please contact:

  • 1800 – RESPECT (1800 737 732)
  • Domestic Violence Helpline:  1800 656 463
  • Child Protection Helpline: 132 111

If you fear for your immediate safety please call 000.

Divorce & Separation

Divorce Part 3 – Negotiation

You may have a few ideas swirling around in your head about what to expect and what your contributions to the marriage were. How much is the house worth and what is my share?

There is an old saying in real estate about the 3 things that determines a property’s value: Location, location, location.
There could be something similar in Divorce proceedings and that is:

Negotiation, negotiation, negotiation.

The more you respect the negotiation process, the easier it will be to move on. It means fewer fees to pay, which means you start your life again sooner.

Where to start?

It is always best to write down your assets and contributions to the household BEFORE starting any negotiations. Be realistic. This could include:

  • What you brought into the marriage (any assets you had before you were married)
  • What was your share of the household bills and responsibilities?
    Did you do any renovations to the house?
  • Were you working at the time or did you rear the children and take care of the household tasks (eg bill paying, cleaning, cooking, grocery shopping)? Was there a combination of these tasks?
  • Were there any inheritances claimed throughout the marriage or after separation?
  • Do you have any debts? These include but are not limited to mortgages, credit cards, personal loans, student loans.
  • Do you or your partner have any outside business interests or shares?
  • What is the total of your respective Superannuation accounts?

As we have stated before, divorces are not always amicable, and it is best to think of your divorce as a business transaction (even if it sounds a bit clinical).

But who do I get to negotiate for me?

You will be your own biggest advocate when it comes to negotiations, so you need to be realistic if you don’t want things to spiral out of control. If you were to buy a house or invest a large sum of money you would make sure you received professional advice. This is often the difference between receiving your entitled share, or having to start over again from scratch.

Divorce & Separation

Divorce Part 2 – Common Questions

There are many questions that people will ask us when they approach us for help and we have compiled a list of the most common ones:

Can I get a divorce quickly?

As much as you would like to finalise proceedings, there are a few requirements that you need to comply with, in order to be granted a divorce.
You must have been separated for 12 months and one day to apply for a divorce, if you have been married for less than two years, you will be required to attend Court- ordered mediation.
From application to finalizing a divorce, it usually takes a MINIMUM of four months. This does not include any litigation over Property Settlement or Parenting Arrangements.

Can I remarry the day I receive my divorce papers?

Your divorce is not finalised until one month after you receive your divorce certificate. So that means you must not marry within that time period or it will be considered bigamy!

Do I have more rights to assets if my partner had an affair?

Divorce in Australia has a ‘no fault’ principle evident in the Family Law Act 1975. This means that there are no requirements of proof for the separation, other than the ‘irretrievable breakdown’ of the marriage following a 12 month separation.

Who gets the children?

The Attorney-General’s Department states “The Family Law Act 1975 focuses on the rights of children and the responsibilities that each parent has towards their children.” Parenting Arrangements are usually handled with legal advice if you and your ex partner cannot agree. It can become overwhelming and litigation can be costly.
This link to the Attorney- General’s Department also supplies information on how best to support your children throughout your divorce:

Can I change my name?

You can change you name at any stage of your divorce. If you would like to also change your children’s names, then both parents must give consent.

Who gets the house?

The Courts will look at financial and non- financial contributions when determining division of property (which will appear in more detail in the next blog).
Financial arrangements can become tricky. You will need to apply within 12 months of your divorce being granted if you wish to apply through the Courts. There is an alternative called a Financial Agreement. If you want to stay out of Court with the Financial Agreement you will need legal representation.

You will have many questions specific to your situation. We have seen many clients throughout the years overcome obstacles that divorce presents. We will help you get the best outcome.

Divorce & Separation

Divorce Part 1 – Where do I start?

Divorce – Where do I start?

If you are thinking of separating, you are not alone, and it is not an anomaly. You married a person thinking that you would stay together forever, but the reality is not always so simple or practical.

The word ‘divorce’ stems from the Latin word ‘divortium’ which means ‘to separate’. The earliest laws pertaining to divorce are from Babylonia in 1760, at the time of King Hammurabi’s reign.

Interesting facts aside, divorce brings with it sadness, grief, anger and resentment and it can be difficult to navigate the separation process in a time of emotional turmoil. It is even more prevalent with the current pressures of COVID.

According to theseparationguide.com.au, there has been an 85% surge of requests for marriage and family counsellors or a psychologist since the pandemic began.

Australia has followed the trend of countries like the US and the UK as their divorce rates continue to rise during the pandemic, and this has many contributing factors such as:

  • Intense close contact
  • Family violence
  • Financial stress
  • Unequal household duties/ parenting responsibilities
  • Working from home

Keeping perspective whilst enduring upheaval is important.

As difficult as it may be, feelings are often temporary and there are facts that you need to know going forward. If you can agree on financial and child- care arrangements with your ex-partner, then you do not have to proceed with litigation. It is a matter of filing with the Federal Circuit Court or Family Law Court.

The most important thing about any separation is to remember that it is much like a business transaction. This is the first thing that will help you understand the process of divorce.

Why should you think of it as a business transaction? It is because when there are matters regarding property and division of assets, there is a general guide as to what the Court follows- and that does not include emotional ‘costs’ (which will be explained in our next two blogs).

Divorce & Separation

Did you see your Kids Over Christmas?

In Australia there is a presumption that parents will have equal responsibility and shared decision-making duties when it comes to children.

Have your children expressed that they want to spend more time with you and that they miss you?

As we enter ‘normal’ life of school, homework and sports, we realise how short life is. They will grow up quickly and time becomes even more full as they attend friends’ parties, go away on holidays and eventually become busy with work commitments.

Children need healthy relationships with both parents and we can help you put this in writing. We
have helped hundreds of families do the same. Don’t miss out on quality time and your kids’ childhood.

Call us on 4323 2266.

If you require someone to speak anonymously about your life circumstances, please reach out:

LIFELINE : 13 11 14

Beyond Blue Coronavirus Mental Wellbeing Support Service – 1800 512 348


There are also services offered on Beyond Blue from online forums to online chat services.