Time is ticking. The Christmas period can be a stressful time for most families – what to serve? Christmas lunch or dinner? What will Santa bring? If you’re like me, you think about these things a few months in advance, but don’t actually take steps until the week of Christmas when it’s mayhem at the shops. Despite the mad rush, it all comes together in the end.
Whether you’re a planner or a last minute Christmas organiser, one thing you should really put into action now is arrangements for the children over Christmas.
It’s not uncommon in the months and even days leading up to Christmas we receive frantic calls from clients where the other parent has changed the arrangements for Christmas without consulting them. Sometimes extended family who haven’t been seen for years cause a change of plan to the already agreed Christmas lunch arrangements and the other party will not agree to altering the changeover time.
Other times one party simply refuses to permit the other party to see his/her children for some reason that is not communicated. Where parties have only recently separated, they may not have turned their minds to when the children will spend time with the other parent at Christmas.
If you are unable to reach an agreement with your ex-partner, or the agreement in place is no longer working, time is ticking if you need the Court to intervene. For Applications to the Family Court of Australia, court proceedings need to be commenced by the second Friday of November, being 10 November 2017.
Most parenting matters are heard in the Federal Circuit Court of Australia. Whilst there is no deadline for filing applications seeking to be heard prior to Christmas for this Court, this time of the year is a busy time and there is no guarantee that an application will be heard by the Court prior to Christmas.
Just as the Courts become busy at this time of year, so do Family Dispute Resolution Centres. Family Dispute Resolution is required before most applications to the Court can be made. They also provide invaluable assistance to parties by helping them reach an agreement on either all or some of the issues in dispute. If you have not explored Family Dispute Resolution, we recommend you do not delay in registering.
If you do not have arrangements in place for the children for the Christmas period, we suggest you contact our family law team without delay to help you negotiate arrangements or prepare an application to the Court.