2016/2017 Christmas School Holiday Contact Deadlines

Blog post by Hayley Ellison

deadlineWith the Christmas holidays fast approaching, it is important to make arrangements to spend time with your children in advance. If you are unable to reach an agreement regarding the upcoming Christmas school holidays then you may need to seek Family Court Orders.

Family Dispute Resolution

Prior to commencing Family Court Proceedings, the Family Law Act 1975 requires that parties attend Family Dispute Resolution (‘FDR’). There are exceptions to this requirement however; it is most likely that your matter will not fall under one of these exceptions. It is important to remember that you can experience delays in the FDR process therefore it is best to commence the process as early as possible. In the event that you are unable to reach an agreement through FDR, you are issued with a section 60I certificate or FDR certificate which allows you to commence proceedings.

Commencing Family Court Proceedings

In Australia, there are three Family Law Courts:

  1. Family Court of Western Australia;
  2. Family Court of Australia; and
  3. Federal Circuit Court of Australia.

You can make applications regarding the care arrangements for your children during the upcoming 2016/2017 Christmas school holidays in these courts dependent on which jurisdiction is applicable. For more information regarding the appropriate jurisdiction and making an application to the Family Law Courts, please contact our offices to make an appointment with one of our family lawyers. Each court has separate requirements regarding the filing of applications for the 2016/2017 Christmas school holidays.

Family Court of Western Australia

In Western Australia, the Case Management Guidelines provide that “the cut off to file applications in the Family Court in time for Christmas is 4.00 pm on the second Friday of November each year.” In 2016, the cut-off date to file applications for the 2016/2017 Christmas school holidays is Friday 11 November 2016.

The Family Court advises in the Case Management Guidelines that “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.”

Family Court of Australia and Federal Circuit Court

In the Family Court of Australia, the Rule 5.01A of the Family Law Rules 2004 provides that the cut off to file applications is “before 4:00pm on the second Friday in November of the application year”, therefore, the same deadline of 11 November 2016 applies. Following this deadline, the applications will be assessed in terms of urgency. In the event that the application is not assessed as being urgent it is unlikely that your matter will be listed until 2017. In the Federal Circuit Court, there is no specific filing deadline.

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.”

Overseas Travel

It is vital to note that pursuant to section 65Y of the Family Law Act 1975 and section 107 of the Family Court Act 1997 parties to proceedings must not take or send the child or children who is the subject of proceedings outside of Australia unless:

  • It is done with the written consent of the other party/parties to the proceedings; or
  • It is done in accordance with a Family Court Order.

If you wish to take your child or children on an overseas holiday you must obtain the written consent of the other party. In the event that you cannot obtain written consent, an application should be filed to obtain endorsement of the Family Court through Orders.

Please contact our offices to make an appointment if you require assistance to make arrangements for your child or children this holiday before the Christmas rush begins.