The Christmas school holidays are an exciting and joyful time for families to come together and celebrate. However, Christmas can be a stressful time for some families, especially families who are separated.
If you have been unable to resolve the care arrangements for your children for the end of year school holiday period (Christmas school holidays) and the Christmas special days, you must file your Application for Parenting Orders with the Court by 4.00pm on the second Friday of November if it is going to be heard before the Court closes for Christmas. For 2022, this is 4.00pm on Friday 11 November 2022.
Applications may still be brought in the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia after this date but unless there are circumstances which are urgent, the application will not be listed before the Court until early 2023.
Parenting Orders for Christmas
If you are recently separated, or don’t have a Parenting Plan or Court Order in relation to what time your children will spend with you over the Christmas break, then you may be struggling with what should occur during this period. You may also have a lot of uncertainty around what will occur on the special days around Christmas Day (Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day). This can be even more worrying if it is the first year you and your former spouse have been separated and the first year that your children are dividing their Christmas school holidays and special days between parents.
Some things that you may be considering in relation to your care arrangements are:
- Christmas morning presents and Santa
- Family traditions
- Travel plans
- Changeovers on Christmas Day
- Spending time with extended family such as grandparents, aunts & uncles and cousins
- The distance between you and your former spouse’s home
Navigating these issues can be difficult and it is typically not a quick process. Therefore it is important to start negotiations now and plan as far ahead as possible.
What if you can’t agree on Christmas parenting arrangements?
Sometimes, and depending on your situation, it may not be possible to reach agreement with your former spouse in relation to parenting arrangements.
If you cannot agree, you will need to seek Parenting Orders from the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia. This then places the decision regarding arrangements for your children in the hands of a Senior Judicial Registrar or Judge.
In parenting matters, before you can commence Court proceedings, parents must undertake certain steps (pre-action procedures). These steps are:
- Step 1 – Participate in Family Dispute Resolution or Mediation.
- Step 2 – If agreement is reached, enter into a Parenting Plan or Consent Orders in relation to the arrangements agreed.
- Step 3 – If you and the other parent cannot reach agreement at a Mediation, you must provide the other parent with your ‘Notice of Intention to Commence Proceedings’. This Notice needs to include:
- An outline of the issues in dispute;
- What Orders you are asking the Court to make if a Court application is required;
- A genuine offer to resolve the dispute;
- Allow at least 14 days for them to respond.
- Step 4 – The other parent should respond within the timeframe provided whether the offer is accepted or rejected.
- Step 5 – If you cannot resolve your dispute, file the following documents with the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia:
- Initiating Application;
- Section 60I certificate or non-filing of family dispute resolution certificate if one of the exemptions apply;
- Notice of child abuse, family violence or risk;
- Genuine steps certificate;
- Parenting Questionnaire.
How we can help
Parry Coates Family Law can assist you in reaching agreement with your former spouse and starting the process to ensure that you do not miss the deadline to obtain Parenting Orders.
There are only 14 Fridays until Christmas and 7 Fridays until the Court cut-off date. If you need help with your family law matter, contact us today on 3532 3826 or firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange your fixed fee consultation with our Candace Watkins and Rebecca Parry.