Not a nice topic for a pre-Christmas blog? No, it’s not, but the reality is that Christmastime, and into the New Year, instead of being a happy period when families get together and enjoy each other’s company, food and a drink, can become a nightmare of arguments and in the worst case, physical domestic violence. 

Why does this happen? 

There can be a number of reasons why happy family gatherings at Christmas can turn ugly. People are often tired after a year of working, and putting on a show for family and friends can be an extra strain, especially this year, when the COVID restrictions have made life so much harder. 

Then there are issues for couples who have already separated and who both want to spend time with children over the Christmas/New Year period. Travelling across town, on country roads or interstate when traffic density is at its worst can cause further stress. 

In situations where a couple’s relationship is already strained, the added tensions around Christmas/New Year celebrations can tip that relationship over the edge, especially if there are money worries – is there enough to buy presents for the kids? Do we have to invite your mother for lunch – you know how she upsets me? The list can go on. 

What to do about it?

One of the first things not to do is argue, and certainly not come to blows in front of the children. Imagine the hurt they feel when this special time of the year is destroyed by their parents fighting, often over issues they don’t understand? If tensions rise at home or when you are out, go for a walk around the block, drive (carefully) to the local shops for a coffee – that can help to ease tensions when you return. If there are ongoing disagreements with your partner, try to put them off until after Christmas/New Year, when it may be easier to sort them out. 

What can the law do? 

If the situation gets out of control there are legal remedies available. In an emergency, dialing 000 and speak to the police who will bring help. They can issue a Family Violence Safety Notice to forbid any family violence. In an extreme case, where the police consider that is not enough, that Safety Notice can be extended to removing the perpetrator from the property, often for weeks or even months, until the matter can get to Court. While that removes the source of the violence from the home, consider the emotional effect on the children of Dad or Mum being escorted from the house on Christmas Day and being barred from seeing those children until the case gets to Court. In less urgent cases, an application can be made to the local Magistrates Court for an Intervention Order. 

Does this sort of thing really happen at Christmas/New Year? 

Yes, unfortunately it does. Family Lawyers will tell you they are always busy in January with cases where marriages or de facto relationships have broken down over this time. 

Can Tonkin Legal Group help?

 Yes we can. If any of these issues concern you, give our friendly, helpful Family Law Team a call on 9435 99044.