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Parenting Arrangements over Christmas Holidays

Family Law

As the Christmas school holiday period is fast approaching, separated parents often become concerned about their parenting arrangements over the holiday season. If you do not have Parenting Orders from the Court specifically providing for Christmas/holiday time with the children, conflict may occur during the holiday season due to disagreements over the time the children are to spend with each parent.

In our experience we have noticed that the most common disputes we see over the holiday period include:

–       Disagreements over how the 6-week holiday period is to be divided between each parent.

–       One party threatening to not allow the other party to see the children during this period, even if an earlier agreement had been reached.

–       One party unilaterally deciding to change the arrangements for the children without consulting the other party.

–       Disagreements where one parent wishes for the children to observe religious traditions during the other parent’s time with the children.

–       Changeover issues arising on Christmas Day if the day is to be shared.

–       Whether a parent wishes to travel overseas with children during the holiday season, e.g. to visit extended family? Is the other parent unlikely to consent to overseas travel?

–       If you have Parenting Orders in place and the other breaches the order, do you need to make an urgent application to the Court regarding the breach of the order?

–       If you do not have Parenting Orders from the Court and the other parent is refusing time with the children over the holiday season, do you need to make an urgent application to the Court seeking Parenting Orders?

The last day for filing an application seeking Parenting Orders for the Christmas holiday period with the Family Court of Australia is 4.00pm on Friday, 8 November 2019. It is important that you lodge your application prior to this date.

In relation to filing an application seeking urgent Parenting Orders from the Federal Circuit Court, there is no cut-off date however the listing of a matter by the Federal Circuit Court will depend on the urgency of the matter and the availability of hearing dates prior to the Christmas holiday period.

Additionally, Family Dispute Resolution (FDR) is a pre-action process that you must attempt before the courts will hear an application for Parenting Orders.  The object of FDR is to try to resolve parenting issues and thereby avoid the matter going before the court. There are some cases in which an exemption may be allowed, for example, if there is an unacceptable risk of family violence.

Accredited Family Dispute Resolution practitioners are in high demand and wait times can be several weeks. Therefore, we recommend starting this process as soon as possible.

For further information or to commence an application, please contact our experienced family law team.