The impact of Coronavirus has been unprecedented and has had an effect on everybody. Family lawyers have seen a surge in new enquiries from clients seeking advice in relation to child contact arrangements between separated parents.
Christmas contact is always an emotive subject and parents can find it difficult to agree the arrangements for the child over the festive period. Therefore, the Family courts experiences an influx of applications during this period.
The Family courts are significantly backlogged which has led to delays in court proceedings such as applications for a Child Arrangements Order. The court has had to prioritise urgent cases such as cases where children are at risk of significant harm or domestic abuse cases where protective orders are needed.
You may not be thinking about Christmas arrangements now. However, if you feel that there is potential that you and your ex-partner will not be able to agree Christmas contact, it would be a good idea to start trying to engage in discussions now so that there is time to pursue the matter before the court. This is mainly to avoid disappointment should discussions break down and an application to the court becomes necessary. Disputes about the amount of time a child will spend with each parent, in circumstances where the child is not at risk of harm, are unlikely to be prioritised by the court and therefore you may not get a court hearing in time for Christmas.
An application to the court should be seen as a last resort if the parents are unable to agree matters between them or through mediation. We would also suggest that legal advice is sought before any court application is made.
If you need advice from a Family Law specialist about Christmas contact or any other Family Law matter please do contact us on 01278 664060. The Family Team at AmicusLaw are experienced in all aspects of family law, including divorce, financial matters (for married and unmarried couples), and children matters. We offer a free initial meeting, mainly by telephone due to the COVID-19 pandemic.