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Important Christmas family court dates

By November 5, 2020February 23rd, 2024No Comments

Are you intending to file an application in the Family Court or Federal Circuit Court this year? If so, please note that the absolute last date to file an application in the Family Court this year is Friday, 13 November 2020. It’s therefore necessary to act without delay immediately if you hope to file an application. The courts have also just released their information regarding registry opening hours for the festive season.

It’s hard to believe, but it’s that time of year again when we wish to remind our clients of the typical surge in applications filed in the Family Court and Federal Circuit Courts at this time of year and the need to act quickly to beat the Christmas rush. There’s always a greater than usual number of applications being filed in the courts, in a system that’s already clogged throughout the year. This is because many families wish to seek a hearing regarding disputes over custody during the Christmas holiday period or travel issues; others may need to seek urgent orders in relation to preservation of assets or other injunctive relief in relation to a property matter.

While the Family Court filing deadline is set as mentioned, the Federal Circuit Court does not have a prescribed cut-off date, but the anticipated return date of an initiating application or an application in a case is the same as the Family Court timeframe, namely around six to eight weeks from the date of filing. Therefore, there’s also a need to act urgently if you intend to file in the Federal Circuit Court.

Travel plans

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, overseas travel plans are unlikely to be an issue for co-parents this year. However, in the event that international travel does need to occur and is possible, note the following information.

Under section 65Y of the Family Law Act if you are a parent involved in current court proceedings you will need to obtain the other parent’s written consent before you can remove your child from the court’s jurisdiction, regardless of how short your planned trip may be.

We encourage clients to try to obtain the written consent of the other parent before making any travel arrangements, and if that consent is not given, to file an application as a matter of urgency to have the travel plans permitted by a court by way of orders.  On the other hand if you are wishing to prevent your child travelling overseas, it may be necessary to have an application listed as urgent, sometimes on an ex parte (without the other party present) basis. 

Christmas holidays court registry hours

Please take note of the following opening hours for the court registries relevant to you. The following information applies to both the Family Court and the Federal Circuit Court registries.

Townsville, Newcastle, Parramatta, Canberra, Dandenong, Hobart, Cairns, Launceston, Rockhampton, Darwin, Albury, Dubbo, Lismore, Sydney (William Street) and Wollongong registries will be closed from:

Friday 25 December 2020
and will re-open on
Thursday 7 January 2021

During this time, phone calls to these registries will be re-directed to:
National Enquiry Centre:
Live Chat
Phone: 1300 352 000
TTY/voice calls: 133 677 (National Relay Service)
Speak & Listen Calls: 1300 555 727

Adelaide, Brisbane, Sydney (Lionel Bowen Building), Melbourne, Perth and the National Enquiry Centre will be open throughout the period (with minimal staff) with the exception of the following days:

Friday 25 December 2020
Monday 28 December 2020
Friday 1 January 2021

On these days the urgent after hours service is available by calling the National Enquiry Centre on 1300 352 000.

Urgent matters

Although the above-mentioned physical registries will be closed as outlined above, urgent matters can be dealt with by judges in interstate registries remotely.  Such urgent applications include: where there is a risk of children being abducted, cases involving family violence, cases involving a risk of assets being removed from Australia or otherwise wasted or spent before the court can look into the matter in the usual way. Applications brought urgently will be assessed by a registrar on a case by case basis and listed accordingly.

To discuss any of the above, please contact Canberra family lawyer Cristina Huesch or one of our other experienced solicitors here at Alliance Family Law on (02) 6223 2400.

Please do keep our details handy for urgent matters over the Christmas period.  In addition to our office landline, our office mobile number 0420 312 114 is always monitored throughout the Christmas period.

Please note our blogs are not legal advice.  For information on how to obtain the correct legal advice, please contact Alliance.

You might also like to read our Christmas co-parenting tips here and here.


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