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School Holiday definition?


My wife and her ex have court orders regarding her two youngest children, who reside with us.  The orders say that he has the children for half of the school holidays.

Our solicitor said that school holidays are considered to be 16 days (2 weeks plus extra weekend) and as such that her ex is entitled to 8 days.  He on the other hand says he will not give back the children after 8 days and is going to have them for half the time from 2.30 Thursday when school finished through to 9am Monday when school goes back… his definition of school holidays.

The way I see it, last Thursday was a school day and so would have been Friday except it was a public holiday for Good Friday, and then the Monday that school goes back is also a school day so how can any of those days be included in school holidays?  That leaves the 16 days that our solicitor said is what constitutes the holidays.

My wife's ex is representing himself and will not communicate with our solicitor. He has been in trouble for withholding the children in the past and had to make an assurance to local magistrate that if he didn't return them again he would be deemed in contempt of court.  We have not been able to contact our solicitor so far and even if we do, he only seems to care about money and probably won't do anything about it, is there anything that we can do about this, or once again do we just have to let this man walk all over us?

I hope someone has some Ideas and can help.

Thank you.

At the school terms are stated as being:

Term 1    29 January - 20 March
Term 2    7 April - 27 June
Term 3    14 July - 19 September
Term 4    6 October - 19 December

So as school finished at 2:30 on the 20th and recommences at 9:00 am on 7th April. Then perhaps the wife's ex's interpretation is perhaps the more correct interpretation, if I correctly understand what you are saying.

Perhaps the real person at fault here is the solicitor, perhaps the solicitor has purposefully introduced ambiguous orders in an order to perhaps gain more by exploiting the situation and the children.

One could conclude that the reasoning behind the other parents action/interpretation may be to reduce CS and FTB, however contravention could be a greater cost, so there's a good chance that this is not the reason. One could also, given the very limited information, consider the opposite, that denial of time is due to maximising receipt of CS, perhaps also FTB.

However I would have thought that consideration of the children would be paramount. What do they really think? Do they want to spend this time with their other parent? Would it really hurt, that they spend a little extra time with the other parent, who, by the sounds of it has every wish to be as much as a parent as possible, perhaps even to the extent of facing contravention proceedings. What are the other contact arrangements? Does the other parent have the opportunity to take the children to school. One thing my son really used to love is me taking him to school, that was a special school day for him.
Try this link on the site:

It really all depends on how well (or badly) the orders are written.

The usual definition; if not defined in the orders is that holidays commence when the children actually physically leave the school and cease when they return to the school.

Executive Member of SRL-Resources, the Family Law People on this site (look for the Avatars) Be mindful what you post in public areas. 


The reality of it all is simple …

The Easter break just passed … public holidays, not school holidays. As a self rep, against my ex, her solicitor actually agreed with me, and he does not like me at all. Easter was not seen as school holidays in my case.

There is a clear difference between the definitions of school and public holidays.

As my orders state that I am to get the benefit of any public holiday or pupil free day adjoining my scheduled weekend (had to fight for that one), I had them All Easter.

Be careful as to the rest, as the orders have to be read taking into account the specifics therein. Do they say "school holidays" or "gazetted school holidays" for example. There can also be a difference, as I have experienced in QLD, between the actual school holiday period and the gazetted school holiday period, such that they do not match … again, more grounds for argument.

Watch out for pupil free days also, they are not seen as a school holiday, gazetted school holiday or a public holiday.

What a minefield it can be!

To a large extent it all depends on Interpretation.

Unless orders are written in terms of what actually happens at school, such as holidays, etc, many choose to interpret the orders to their own advantage.

Aussie had done his homework and knew what to ask for.

There is another case kicking around where the orders stated Gazetted School Holidays. The child attended a Private School, at which the holidays were not concurrent with Government Schools. A trip back to court was needed because one parent sought to impose a very selective or literal interpretation of the orders.

For me - Shared Parenting is a Reality - Maybe it can be for you too!
Given that the children reside with you and their mother, will a few days here or there really hurt?

I know from experience how exasperating this can be, but at the end of the day it is the children's best interests that count.

What are there ages?

Maybe get some counselling for them to get an impartial view on what they really think.

But to be honest, if it is only the interpretation of the orders that are causing grief, why not take advantage of it and spend some one-on-one time with your wife.
Hello again,

The exact wording from the orders with reference to school holidays other than the Christmas ones is as follows :

"For half of all other school holiday periods in which, unless otherwise agreed, shall be the first half of the school holidays in even numbered years and the second half in odd numbered years."

It very clearly says half of the holidays and it all comes down to the definition of school holidays.

I personally believe that school holidays are days that the children are not required to attend school for reason other than public holiday, plus the weekends surrounding those days.  Hence for a normal 2 week holiday period the holidays would run from the Saturday after school finishes until the Sunday before school resumes, which would total 16 days of which half would be 8.

I would believe also that Good Friday was actually a public holiday that fell on what would normally have been a school day, so it would then not be part of the school holidays.
The exact wording of the orders with relation to his access during school holidays other than Christmas is as follow :

"For half of all other school holiday periods in which, unless otherwise agreed, shall be the first half of the school holidays in even numbered years and the second half in odd numbered years."

I have been led to believe that school holidays run from the Saturday after school finished to the Sunday before school starts, after all how can you call a day when the children attend school to be part of the school holidays?  That would make the holidays run for 16 days and therefore half would be 8 days.

Also I believe that Good Friday is a public holiday that falls on a school day and Victoria just decides to then run the school holidays after that point for the following 2 weeks. After all if the school holidays had not been for another 2 weeks, and he only had weekend access over Easter, he would only have had the children on Saturday and Sunday, not Friday to Monday.

The children are a girl aged almost 10 and a 2.5 year old boy.  The reasoning my wife and I don't want the children spending any more time with her ex than necessary is that he is causing mental trauma to them, in particular the 2 year old because he is not willing to acknowledge the fact that my wife is re-married.  He tells the children that our marriage is adulterous, unChristian, etc (we had to explain adulterous to the girl) and that they don't have to listen to me or do anything I tell them as I have no right to be a father to them.  This is just the tip of the iceberg, this is a very messy situation.

My other issue is that in the past he has messed with return times and even withheld the 2 year old last year for several days until a Recovery Order was issued and he was forced to return him.  During his court appearance to get his rights back that were suspended by the Recovery Order, the Magistrate made him give an assurance to the court that he would return the exactly when required and not play these games or else he would be in contempt of court.  Now he has via email told us that he doesn't listen to local magistrates and only to a federal magistrate and therefore I am presuming he has no regard for his assurance about this issue.

Does anyone know how contempt of court in such situations works and how the court is made aware if he reneges on the assurance that he gave the court?
You (the collective you) can follow the course you appear to want to take, and that is act against the children's father, you'd likely win the battle in court but not necessarily the battle of doing what is best for the children. The children, especially the oldest, will likely be aware that you have gone to court.  

I'm not saying you can, but would it not be better in the eyes of the children if they could see you as the ones who fought for peace rather than the ones who fought to build a wall of denial and confusion. What does a 10 year old think when she/he has to tell her classmates/friends that she's not allowed to see her father because he's bad? Would they revel in that situation?

Can you perhaps see some way to bite the bullet. It can work and does. It has in my case, neither of us get on as such, the few times when face each other we and our new partners are all uncomfortable even partner to partner. In fact the last was an example, the ex came here for the Camden Festival (6 hour drive) and stayed in the same suburb. I got a call saying that I could have some time with my son, so I go and pick him up. We also took one of her kids to the park with us, we offered, they jumped at the offer.

I'll not say the things that did happen in the past, I believe that nothing can change the actual events, but I can't see that your situation is any worse from what you've said not in comparison to mine. Why not offer to let him have the kids for say an extra week the next holiday. Could that perhaps lead to a reduction in the acrimony? If no then perhaps explain how you know that to be. Will running off to court stop anything, it is likely, from what you've said he said, that the wife's ex is aware that the local courts cannot deal with a contested case (please anybody, if I'm wrong correct me on this). If I am wrong then I've not only made a fool of myself here, but also when I went before the local magistrate, as I put that to the magistrate.

I think few, if any, would not advise to stay away from the courts, even the courts themselves say this if I recall correctly (again anybody correct me if I'm wrong).

Why spend perhaps years of yours, your partner's and the children's, lives fighting over the odd day? Could you be sure who would win in the end?

You may wish to try to understand the grieving process (it's called something like that), the stages that people tend to go through after separation/divorce. Perhaps after seeing that you may understand more about what may be happening.
Just so you know Mike, the near 10 year old is not his daughter, he is only her step-father, so technically no more her father than I now am. As for her well-being, she screams at him to not say the things he says about me and her mother, but he doesn't care, so it isn't us that is not looking out for whats best for the children.  Another example is that she wants to go on a camp in a few weeks time but it falls on his access weekend, we are more than happy to swap weekends but he will not agree to it.

Peace would be a wonderful thing but this man is not like most, he is purely out to cause pain and trouble. In the past we have given him an extra day, etc. and then he just continually demands more and more.

My wife lived with this man controlling, belittling and walking all over her for 8 years of her life and when she left him she hoped that would be over, but he seems like he has made it his life mission to hurt her.

He will not communicate with my wife by any way other than email and in the last couple of weeks has blocked any emails with our surname in them, how can we try to be reasonable with someone who is so full on aggressive against us.

Please don't think I am trying to make out that everyone is like this or that your situations aren't worse, just this is a real mess and only is going to get worse and worse.

A prime example is that my wife is now pregnant and because of previous complications, soon will not be able to travel. There is no way known that her ex is going to return the children to me because I am not included in the orders (made before we were married)…that is the level of pettiness that he goes to.

Thanks for the extra information and I stand corrected that you have tried along the lines I was suggesting.

I've got to admit I was under the impression that this was just starting rather than being a more drawn out situation.

If I recall correctly there was something posted on here recently about contraventions/contempt. I'll see if I can find it. Something that struck me was, again if I recall correctly, that the rules/laws of contempt are far more demanding and require real evidence (if that's the correct term).

Found it Post on Contempt/Contraventions
No worries Mike, it is hard to give a lot of details in a posting without writing too much

Another question on school holidays

I too have a question related to school holidays. We have just finished the April school holidays in NSW, which compromised a total of 3 weekends.

This has resulted in some confusion between the mother and I as to who gets the next weekend after the school holidays have finished.

I took it to be a simple case of marking every second weekend off on the calendar for the whole year, and I took it for granted that those weekend that I marked would be mine except when we have school holidays.

The mother believes that the non-school holiday routine is suspended during school holidays, and re-activated as soon as the school holidays are finished.

Although the mother's belief has some logic to it, it means that my weekends (which were on odd weeks) suddenly change to even weeks.

Now I have read and re-read our Orders and it makes no mention of suspending the routine during school holidays, so this seems to be a grey area.

I am happy to agree to the mother's request in this matter, because at the end of the day the net effect is zero, but I would like to get an understanding as to what the standard is (if any) in this area.

Does anyone know if there is a standard here, or does it completely depend on how both parent's wish to arrange it?

Again, I am not looking to argue this point with the mother, but I am simply trying to understand how most other parents treat this scenario. Thanks
We've adopted your interpretation, but it was by agreement. Our orders didn't say anything either way. But everyone wanted to be able to plan ahead for both their time with and without the kids, as it means you can book holidays etc. Maybe point out politely to your ex the benefits to her of doing it that way (don't say "my way"!!) like how cool it would be to know right now whether or not you'll have the kids on, say October 24 when your best friend is getting married, or there's a concert you want to see. It's good for being able to put a recurring reminder in your Outlook as well. I could tell you which are my weekends all the way up to the kids leaving home.
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