With the Queensland school holidays extended and the return to school delayed due to the high rates of COVID in the state, many separated parents are faced with working out who will have the care of the children during those extra one or two weeks.
The answer about what to do will depend on a range of factors
If you do not have Orders or a Parenting Plan who gets the extra time with the children?
If you have a reasonably amicable co-parenting relationship then you and your co-parent will hopefully be able to work this out without too much fuss.
We suggest taking a logical, child-focussed approach to the school holiday extension in Queensland:
With the school year extended by a week, your children will ‘lose’ a week of school holidays with one parent in December (Let’s call them Parent A). It makes sense for your children to have a week with Parent A during the extended school holidays/school closure in January/February. Otherwise, the children will miss out on a week of holidays with Parent A.
However, if the children have been with Parent A for the second half of the current holidays, and have not seen Parent B for about 3 weeks, it would be reasonable and child-focussed to ensure the children have time with Parent B for one of the two extra weeks.
Or, you might decide to instead change your arrangements for the holidays at the end of the year to share those differently.
We have Court Orders. Who gets the extra Queensland school holidays time?
If you have Court Orders (or a Parenting Plan) in place then you will need to carefully read the document and, if necessary, seek legal advice about what your obligations are to ensure you are not breaching the terms.
Depending on how your Orders or Parenting Plan are worded, it may be clear what happens (for example, if you have a week-about arrangement, that would just continue). If your Parenting Orders or Plan provide for half school holidays then you might think it is reasonable to each have one of the extra weeks. However, as we have discussed above, you need to consider that the children will lose a week with one parent at the end of the year.
What if we just can't agree on how time should be changed due to school closures?
The worst thing that could come out of this is parents explaining to a judge that they could not agree how to divide the extra school holiday time. That is an expensive exercise and may not go the way you hope.
We suggest opening up communication with your co-parent and putting forward suggestions (perhaps a couple of them) how time could be rearranged, and invite their input. But don’t delay – you need to resolve this before 24 January 2022 when the extra one or two weeks kick in.
If you are unable to reach agreement, we can assist you via a limited scope video mediation, to deal with this single issue. We have after hours appointments available for $250 per parent (inc GST) which includes an intake session with each of you and an hour of mediation. Once you and your co-parent have agreed on a mediation date, you can book a mediation online now or using our calendar below – just select “COVID School holidays mediation” to see available times. We will then contact each of you to book intake sessions.
We recommend sending your co-parent a copy of this webpage and ask them to agree to attend mediation and agree on a date and times.
If you require us to issue an invitation to the other party on your behalf, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with the other party’s name and contact details, and we will be in touch (there is an administration fee of $55 (inc GST) for us to issue the invitation.
As this is a limited scope mediation to deal with one pressing issue, a s60i Certificate will not be issued.