Property Settlements

Deadline for Christmas Holiday Child Disputes

If you and your former partner cannot agree on child arrangements for the Christmas school holidays, you will need to seek a Parenting Order before an approaching deadline.


If you and your former partner cannot agree on child arrangements for the Christmas school holidays, you will need to seek a Parenting Order before an approaching deadline.


Any Application filed in the Family Court of Australia seeking parenting Orders about the 2014/2015 Christmas school holiday period must be filed before 4.00pm on Friday, 14 November 2014.

So, with that date in mind and with Christmas school holidays approaching quickly, it’s an important time for separated parents to try and reach agreement about the arrangements that will apply for their child or children across the holiday season or to seek out help to make those plans.

In some situations, parents will be able to make informal arrangements between themselves.

Unfortunately, that’s not always possible. But, there are services and professionals who can help to make a tough task easier – it’s just important for separated parents to connect with them early to avoid Christmas holiday conflict.

What if I’d like to talk to my former partner but don’t feel completely confident or comfortable?

You might feel your former partner is making unreasonable demands or that you’d benefit from the guidance of someone experienced leading your discussion about the arrangements for the care of your child.

For help with holiday (and general, day-to-day parenting) arrangements, Family Dispute Resolution (“FDR”) can often be helpful.

FDR services also provide a screening program that will help determine whether you and your former partner are the right fit for the process.

But, there will be some circumstances where FDR isn’t suitable or successful.

What about if FDR isn’t suitable for me or isn’t successful?

In that circumstance, you should consider obtaining advice from a Family Lawyer. Your lawyer can help you to negotiate an agreement with your former partner.

If an agreement is reached, your lawyer will talk to you about options for formalising the agreement you have arrived at.

What if I can’t reach agreement with my former partner?

If the negotiations with your former partner don’t result in an agreement, you can make an Application to the Family Law Courts for Parenting Orders about your child or children.

Normally, the Court will require you to provide a Certificate to confirm that you’ve attended FDR. There are some exceptions to that requirement. Your lawyer will discuss those exceptions with you if they are applicable to you.

Child Custody Lawyer, Adelaide and Perth

What time limits apply for Applications about Parenting Orders for the 2014/2015 Christmas school holidays?

It’s important to know that the Family Law Courts consist of two Courts:

(a)The Family Court of Australia; and

(b)The Federal Circuit Court of Australia.

Applications for parenting Orders during the 2014/2015 Christmas school holidays can be filed in both Courts but each has separate requirements about when those Applications must be filed to ensure they are heard before Christmas.

Your lawyer will explain to you which Court your Application should be filed in.

So, what happens in the Family Court of Australia?

In the Family Court of Australia, any Application asking the Court to make Orders about who your child or children will spend time with during the Christmas school holidays (including travel arrangements) must be filed by 4.00pm on Friday, 14 November 2014 to ensure a listing (court date) before Christmas.

After 14 November 2014, the Court Registry will assess urgent Applications on the basis of the usual criteria. Please consult a Family Lawyer if you and your child or children require urgent assistance.

Applications that do not satisfy any of the urgency criteria (even those asking for Orders about Christmas holiday time but not filed before 14 November 2014) will likely be listed in the new year.

Are the requirements different in the Federal Circuit Court?

In short, yes. In the Federal Circuit Court, there is no specific filing deadline.

The Court advises that, “The listing of the matter will depend on the Orders sought, the urgency stated in the Affidavit and the availability of Court dates.”

It’s important to be aware that Court lists become very busy prior to the Christmas closure.

If you require help making arrangements for your child or children this holiday season, please ensure you take advice as soon as possible – bearing in mind the important dates that could apply to you and your family.

Western Australia

If you live in Western Australia, the Family Court of Western Australia may be the Court with jurisdiction in relation to your matter.

In Western Australia, the filing date of 14 November 2014 also applies.

However, the Court’s Case Management Guidelines also state, “Parties should be aware that applications filed prior to this date are not necessarily guaranteed to be listed or determined prior to the commencement of the relevant school holiday period. Such applications should be filed as early as practicable to ensure an appropriate listing date.”

Morgan O’Brien-Powell is a Senior Associate at South Australia’s largest family law firm, Tindall Gask Bentley. Call (08) 8212 1077 to arrange an appointment.

For assistance in Western Australia, please contact Wendy Barry, Partner, at our Perth office on (08) 9211 5800.

Register for an appointment at your nearest office online.