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Strict time limits apply to applications for Parenting Orders to be dealt with before Christmas.


Christmas, New Year and summer school holidays can be an anxious time for separated families; both for parents and children. Unfortunately situations do arise during this period which may require you to obtain assistance from the Family Law Courts.

Common family disputes which occur during the Christmas period:

  • One party unilaterally deciding to change the arrangements for the children without consulting the other party.
  • One party threatening to not allow the other party to see the children during this period, even if an earlier agreement had been reached.
  • Changes need to be made to the current arrangement due to unforeseen circumstances occurring; for example family lunch or dinner times changing or employment commitments changing and the other party just won’t agree.
  • There is no Consent Order or Parenting Plan in place regarding the time each party is to spend with the children and there are concerns that one party will not allow the other party to see the children or only allow a limited amount of time.
  • There is an agreement in place but one party has not been complying with leading up to this period and there are concerns they will continue to breach the agreement.

These types of situations can happen to anyone, even if there is already a Parenting Plan or Consent Order in place that states what time each party is to have with the children over the holiday period.

What can you do about disputes over spending time with your children?

You could contact one of the Andersons Family Law specialists to discuss your options.

Cut-off date for filing applications for Parenting Orders in the Family Court

It’s important to note that there is a cut-off date for filing applications for Parenting Orders in the Family Court in time for Christmas which is 4.00 pm on the second Friday of November each year

The cut-off date for applications in time for Christmas in 2018 is 4.00 pm on Friday 9 November 2018

Family Dispute Resolution

An option is for you to arrange for yourself and the other party to participate in Family Dispute Resolution in an attempt to resolve issues regarding the time each party will spend with the children over the summer period. Family Dispute Resolution is a pre-action process that is required to be carried before an application can be made to the Court for Parenting Orders. There are exceptions to this if the matter is urgent. Urgent matters include matters involving family violence or threats of family violence.

There can be delays associated with undertaking Family Dispute Resolution and so it is imperative that this process is commenced as soon as possible before the holiday period. This is due to Family Dispute Resolution agencies being especially busy at this time of the year. In the past, parties have had to wait several weeks before being able to get an appointment with a Family Dispute Resolution agency.

Any applications being made to the Family Court for Parenting Orders must be filed prior to the Court’s cut-off date. If the application is not filed before the cut-off date there is no guarantee that parties will receive a Parenting Order before the end of the year. We recommend that before filing an application to the Court you obtain specialised Family Law advice.

Applications for Parenting Orders in the Federal Circuit Court of Australia

If you are filing an application for Parenting Orders in the Federal Circuit Court of Australia there is no set cut-off date. Despite no cut-off date, this Court also becomes extremely busy at this time of year and there is no guarantee when your matter will be heard.

Delaying in making such an application could result in your matter not being listed this year.

The Court considers many factors when assessing an application, such as any urgency in the matter and the availability of court dates. If there is urgency to your matter this will need to be set out clearly in the Affidavit filed in the Court in support of your application.

We suggest you obtain specialist legal advice immediately if you are considering filing an application for Parenting Orders in the Federal Circuit Court for 2018.

Family Law assistance over Christmas and New Year

During 2018/2019 Christmas/New Year period, the Family Law Courts will be closed on public holidays and will reopen on Wednesday 2 January 2019. 

The Adelaide Registry is the only Registry open in South Australia. It is not open on public holidays. On other days during the period, there will be a Duty Registrar available for urgent matters.

The National Enquiry Centre will also be open and contactable by phone on 1300 352 000, except on public holidays.

If you are affected by any of these issues, you need to talk to a solicitor highly experienced in Family Law and we recommend you speak with one of our Family Law team members.