At holiday time, especially over Christmas and New Year, it is important for separated couples to have clear arrangements in place for their children. This is because:
- most children like routine and, depending on their age, are more comfortable knowing what plans have been made; and
- it enables everyone to make plans in advance and enjoy time with children and families.
For some parents, making holidays arrangements feels too difficult and they use lawyers to get Family Court orders to determine the precise times kids spend with each party. This is costly (it may cost thousands of dollars), time consuming (lots of documents to prepare) and the outcomes are uncertain (it wouldn’t go to Court unless the lawyers could mount arguments both ways).
BUT IT IS TOO LATE?
Before going to Court to get orders in children’s matters, the parties must attend Family Dispute Resolution (‘FDR’). There are a few exceptions but most matters do not qualify – especially arguments regarding Christmas or Boxing Day arrangements). Relationships Australia – who provide FDR services – are booked out until the new year, so that option is gone.
And whether you can even get the matter in to Court after FDR may not now be possible. The Guidelines of the Family Court of Western Australia provide that “the cut off to file applications in time for Christmas parenting arrangements is 4.00 pm on the second Friday of November each year.” That is, by 4:00 pm on Friday 10 November!
And even if you have done FDR and already filed an application, it may not be heard in time. The Family Court advises further 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.
So what are the alternatives?
Private mediation with a registered and accredited mediator offers your best prospects of getting kids’ arrangements resolved in a way that all parties can live with and let everyone enjoy Christmas with family and friends.
Private Mediation is quick (within two weeks), cost effective (a fraction of the legal costs that would otherwise be incurred) and an efficient way to resolve holiday arrangements. Agreements reached at mediation can be put into consent Court Orders or a Parenting Plan, both of which have legal effect.
At Move On Mediation we can help parents work out holiday arrangements in a couple of hours. We are so confident that we can at least achieve some agreements, that we’ll refund 50% of the fees if you leave empty handed.
Overseas travel with children
One other issue – if you are planning to travel overseas with kids you must obtain the written consent of the other party. If you cannot obtain written consent, an application should be filed to get the orders from the Family Court authorising the travel.