Separated parents squabbling over contact with their children for the Christmas holiday period will need to try and resolve their disputes amicably as many courts are already fully booked up for hearings before the festive break.
Applications to courts from parents trying to make arrangements for contact with their children now need the couple to show evidence that they have tried to resolve their issues themselves through mediation, except in very urgent cases or those involving harm.
Around the holiday periods, and particularly at Christmas, the courts get very busy trying to deal with family disputes and family law specialists at Irwin Mitchell are advising couples of the practical options and issues to consider for parents that may have missed court deadlines.
Alison Hawes, an expert family lawyer at Irwin Mitchell’s Bristol office, which has a network of specialists across the country, said: “Where children are involved the courts want to see action taken to resolve any issues between the two parents first – regardless of whether it is Christmas. The courts increasingly see joint parenting as the ideal way for parents to bring up their children so we urge people to talk about their issues and try to come to a sensible conclusion that suits the children rather than the adults.
“Christmas can be a very difficult time for families that are separated or divorced and this can take a huge toll on the children involved. It is therefore crucial that any potential disputes are sorted out as soon as possible to ensure that everyone can focus on making the most of the time they have during the holiday period.
“We advise the parents we support to consider practical compromises, to make sure children aren’t caught in the cross fire and to try to remember that the festive period is mainly for children to enjoy, rather than for parents to try to score points.
“Remember there will be other Christmases, or other holidays to have special time with children. Although Christmas Eve and Christmas Day can be magical times for children, they would far prefer to be able to spend relaxed time with both parents over the school holidays rather than being at the centre of rows if parents try to split time on the basis of what the adults may perceive as fair.
“Specialist family mediators can help significantly as can having the right expert family law support at this time of year.”