15 Apr Access to Children During School Holidays: A Guide to Family Law Issues
As the school holidays approach, many parents may find themselves grappling with the question of how to divide time with their children. While this can be a challenging issue in any family, it can be particularly complicated for separated or divorced parents. In this article, we will explore some of the key legal issues surrounding access to children during school holidays in Australia and examine some recent cases that shed light on these issues.
The Legal Framework
In Australia, the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) governs the rights and responsibilities of parents concerning their children. The Act emphasises the importance of ensuring that children have meaningful relationships with both parents while also considering their best interests.
When it comes to school holidays, the Act does not specify a one-size-fits-all solution for parents. Instead, it requires parents to come up with arrangements that are tailored to their specific circumstances and the needs of their children.
In practice, this means that parents are encouraged to negotiate access arrangements that take into account factors such as the distance between homes, the child’s age and preferences, and any work or other commitments of the parents. Suppose parents are unable to come to an agreement. In that case, they may seek the assistance of the Family Court, which will decide based on the child’s best interests.
Several recent cases have grappled with the issue of access to children during school holidays. One such case is Gainsford & Gainsford  FCCA3424, which dealt with a father’s application for increased time with his two children during school holidays.
In this case, the father argued that he should be allowed to spend half of each school holiday period with the children. In contrast, the mother argued that this would disrupt the children’s routines and be detrimental to their well-being. Ultimately, the court agreed with the mother, finding that the children needed consistency and routine. Allowing the father to have half of each holiday would be too disruptive.
Another recent case is Elliott & McCauley  FCCA 1297, which dealt with a mother’s application to prevent the father from taking their children on a holiday to New Zealand during the school holidays. The mother argued that the trip would be unsafe due to COVID-19, while the father argued that the trip had been planned for some time and that it was in the children’s best interests to spend time with him.
In this case, the court ultimately granted the father’s application, finding that the risks associated with the trip were low and that it was in the children’s best interests to spend time with their father. However, the court did impose several conditions on the trip, such as requiring the father to provide evidence of the children’s vaccination status and to comply with any COVID-19-related restrictions.
Key Considerations for Parents
When negotiating access arrangements for school holidays, parents should keep several key considerations in mind. These include:
- The child’s age and preferences: Younger children may require more consistency and routine, while older children may want more independence and the opportunity to spend time with friends
- Distance between homes: If parents live far apart, creating arrangements that allow for regular and meaningful time with both parents may be more challenging.
- Work and other commitments: Parents should consider any work or other commitments that may affect their ability to care for their children during school holidays.
- Special occasions: It is essential to consider any special occasions that may fall during the school holidays, such as birthdays or religious holidays.
- COVID-19 restrictions: As the recent cases discussed above demonstrate, COVID-19 restrictions may affect access arrangements during school holidays. Parents should stay up-to-date with any relevant information.
Are you facing challenges in determining access to your children during school holidays? The experienced team at FEDEROV Family Lawyers is here to assist you. With a deep understanding of family law issues and a commitment to protecting the best interests of your children, we can provide you with tailored advice and guidance.
Don’t navigate the complexities of school holiday access alone. Contact FEDEROV Family Lawyers today and let us help you find the best solutions for your unique situation. Your children’s happiness and stability are our top priorities.