Navigating Father's Day for Children of Divorce and their Dad

Many fathers wish that they could have more time each day, week or month with their children and this is often highlighted on Father’s Day. According to the ABS, almost one in 5 families are headed by a sole parent, of which more than one in seven families are headed by a sole female/mother figure(1). Nowadays, parenting orders and plans allow for children to spend some time or the day with their father on Father’s Day. Yet for many others, it hasn’t been addressed or considered prior to now. Rachael Scharrer, divorce expert and founder of DivorceAnswered.com.au shares some tips for recognising your child’s father on Father’s Day.

Acknowledging Father’s Day for the child. The Family Court encourages a meaningful relationship with both parents and Father’s Day is no expectation. Putting the feelings and desires of your child first is the priority. If your parenting plan or agreement doesn’t cater for Father’s Day, try to put what your child wants as the focus of the day (provided that the wellbeing and safety of the child is maintained). Either request (if you are the father without scheduled access) or offer for the child to enjoy a little time with their father - Perhaps meet for a quick coffee if it is not the father’s scheduled day. In the least, and provided it is possible, allow the child to call their father and wish him well on the special day. You may be pleased by the warm reception you receive by making a relatively small gesture to the other parent.

If you are the parent who would like to be celebrating Father’s Day with your child, you need to reach out and make it known to the other parent as soon as possible that you would like some time with your child. Request a phone call, request some time at the park or in a café, either alone with the child for a limited time or with the other parent (or nominated adult) present. No matter what the outcome is, both parents are reminded to be respectful, polite and child-focused. While Father’s Day sounds like it is all about the ‘father,’ it is really all about the child, how they view the day, their current relationship with the father and how the child wants to spend their day. Remember to consult the child if they are at an age where they can clearly express an opinion.

Gift-giving suggestions. Children love giving presents and seeing the delight from the recipient. Marking the day with a gift doesn’t have to break the bank. For families on a budget, and for those who don’t make a big fuss on Father’s Day, great cost-effective gifts include:

  1. Card or drawing for their father
  2. Baked goods
  3. Photograph of the child
  4. Send the school made gifts which tend to come home the Friday prior to Father’s Day (but photograph the items and send the pics on Father’s day)
  5. A small bottle of cologne or moisturiser
  6. Set a budget for the children to spend in a selected store (like Kmart or the $2 shop)
  7. Let the child pick some lollies and create a lolly jar
  8. Traditional socks and underwear
  9. Download some online fun home craft creations (or visit the craft shop and let your children make something special)
  10. Send a series of MMS, short video or audio clip of the children to their father wishing him Happy Father’s Day

Periodically, as circumstances change and as children get older, parenting plans need revising and updating. Divorce Answered offers a customisable, click-the-clause Parenting Plan for a fraction of the cost of having a professional write one for you. Your Family Lawyer can always review and offer amendments. Should you need a legally binding plan, you will need to lodge it with the Family Court and have it made into an Order.

Remember that your child is part of both parents. When you criticise or denigrate the other parent, you are also putting down part of your child. By making some effort, recognising Father’s Day and positively supporting your child, you are teaching them how to respectfully co-parent and make the best out of a situation that may not be ideal (for you, your ex-partner or for your child). Your child will look back in the years to come and appreciate both of their parents working together and prioritising the needs and feelings of the child.

(1) https://aifs.gov.au/facts-and-figures/types-families-australia/types-families-australia-source-data#017

Disclaimer

This is general advice only and is not provided as legal advice. If you have a legal issue, you should contact a lawyer and/or accountant before making a decision about what to do or applying to the Court. DivorceAnswered.com.au cannot provide legal advice. If you have an emergency situation, please contact Emergency '000'. © Divorce Pty Ltd