(03) 5536 9111

Cut-off Date For Parenting Orders Before Christmas

21 · 10 · 22

Spending time with children at Christmas and over the long summer holidays – what happens if you and your spouse cannot agree to note the court deadlines for filing applications to deal with these issues before Christmas?

Although the Christmas period is usually an exciting time for children and families, it can also be challenging for separated parents who cannot agree on care arrangements for their children. 

There are time limits for parents to issue proceedings seeking parenting orders for the Christmas and long summer holidays.

Rule 5.03 of the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia (Family Law) Rules 2021 (Cth) provides that parents seeking (interim) orders to deal with the Christmas and long summer holidays (in the year that the application is filed and extending to January in the following year) on the second Friday in November of the application year.

In 2022, the deadline for applications to be filed is 4.00 pm Friday, 11th November.

If you require assistance, contact us today to discuss your matter.

What are the main things to consider when discussing care arrangements during the holidays?

  • When and how the children will spend time with each parent on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and during the long summer holidays;
  • Whether either parent proposes to travel with the children;
  • The duration of time and the cycle in which the children will spend time with each parent over the school holidays should the usual arrangement during the school term get suspended;
  • Any special events arising over the long summer holidays;
  • What time and the location of the changeover; and 
  • Confirmation of the actual dates that the long summer holidays commence and conclude.

If you and your former partner/spouse can agree about the care arrangements for children over Christmas, you may formalise your agreement with a parenting plan or consent order/s.

Next Steps

Family Dispute Resolution

If you and your former partner/spouse cannot agree, you must make arrangements to participate in family dispute resolution (unless an exemption applies) and attempt to resolve these issues. 

Separated parents who have not reached an agreement must attempt family dispute resolution before considering issuing court proceedings. This process also applies to care arrangements during Christmas and the summer holidays.

See our blog post: How Family Dispute Resolution Can Benefit You


If you and your former partner/spouse resolve these issues at family dispute resolution, the family dispute resolution practitioner will often assist in drafting your parenting plan. Your solicitor can also assist in the preparation of the relevant documents. 

As a parenting plan is not a court order, the terms of this document are not enforceable, whereas consent order/s are orders made by the Court and are enforceable. 

To understand the difference between a parenting plan and a court order, see our blog post: What is the difference between a parenting plan and a consent order?


If you and your former partner/spouse have attempted family dispute resolution and still have not reached an agreement you will receive a Section 60I Certificate from the family dispute resolution practitioner. At this stage, either parent can issue proceedings with the Court (Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia) seeking parenting orders.

There are limited circumstances when parties are not required to attempt family dispute resolution before issuing proceedings. It is important to remember that issuing proceedings with the Court is a big step. In most circumstances, parties can agree to what is best for their children and thus resolve the care arrangements without litigation.


In some urgent circumstances, for example, if family violence is a factor, the application can be filed after the deadline, and the Court’s criteria for an urgent hearing will apply. Applications that do not meet these criteria get allocated to the next available hearing date, which may be after Christmas. 

Get in touch with Anderson Family Lawyers today to discuss parenting arrangements for your children over the Christmas and long summer holiday period. Visit our contact page or call us on (03) 5536 9111

Please note that this article is not an alternative to obtaining independent legal advice and does not constitute independent legal advice.

Anderson Family Lawyers