Spending This Christmas With Your Children


The Law Of…Seeing Your Children Over Christmas

Christmas is an emotional time, being a holiday centred around family and togetherness. Not being able to see your children over Christmas can be extremely distressing and upsetting.

Carol Chrisfield, Family Law Associate, explains some of the ways parents going through children disputes can ensure their wish to spend time with their children this Christmas is considered.

Mediation Could Help

Unless a case is urgent, or a child's safety is at risk, parents are required to consider family mediation before applying for court proceedings. A family law mediator can help separated couples resolve disputes over the child without ever having to go to court. Mediation can also help resolve to financial matters.

Make Your Application To Court Early

Making an application to the court for a children arrangement order should be seen as a last resort. Such an order can decide who a child lives with and how much time they spend with either parent.

If an application to the court for an order in relation to Christmas cannot be avoided, it's important to apply as early as possible. Christmas can be a busy time for the court, so leaving it late will reduce the chances that the court will be able to list a hearing in advance of this.

Whilst you do not need to instruct a solicitor before applying to the court, it is often wise to seek some legal advice to help you to understand the process and options available to you. A solicitor can also help you prepare the necessary court documents and lodge them at court quickly, if this is required.

For any case issued in court after 22nd October 2014, the court is required to proceed the case on the basis that both parents should remain involved in their child’s life. This is a rather vague provision, and does not imply any particular division of a child’s time. The presumption of involvement does not apply if the parent’s involvement puts the child at risk of suffering harm.

However, where the principle of contact is not in dispute, the court will often recognise that Christmas is an important time for families. 

A Child Arrangement Order Is Not Always The Best Course Of Action

In an ideal world it would always be best for parents to be able to reach their own arrangement. Evidence suggests that an agreement reached between parents has a better chance of success than an order imposed by the court. An application to the court can sometimes be seen as a hostile step and can be much more emotionally charged than trying to negotiate directly, with perhaps the help of a mediator.

Taking into consideration what is best for the child and putting aside differences is the best way to go about having a stress-free Christmas.

Carol Comments:

"Mediation can often be extremely successful, even when the prognosis for agreement appears to be low and I would almost invariably recommend it to my clients.”

How Simpson Millar Can Help You This Christmas

If you are currently in the middle of a dispute regarding the arrangements for your child, or are struggling to agree terms with your former partner regarding arrangements, Simpson Millar can assist you. Our Family Law Solicitors are specialists in mediation and child disputes. Contact us today on our freephone number or through our online enquiry form.

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