With Christmas fast approaching, many separated parents will now be trying to agree how much time their children spend with the other parent during the festive period. Whilst it is always best for separated parents to agree this between themselves, this is not always possible, and separated parents, therefore, need to be aware of the other options available to them.
Is there an existing Child Arrangements Order in place?
The first thing for separated parents to consider is whether there is an existing Child Arrangements Order in place. If there is, then that Order may already contain a provision for how much time their children are to spend with them during the Christmas period. If it does, then separated parents will need to comply with that Order, unless they agree an alternative arrangement between themselves.
What if there is no Child Arrangements Order in place?
If there is no Children Arrangements Order in place, and separated parents cannot agree the arrangements for Christmas between themselves, then they may wish to consider attending at mediation. Mediation is often a more cost-effective way of trying resolving disputes, and also avoids the risks associated with litigation. Separated parents also need to be aware that unless certain exemptions apply, the Court will not issue an application dealing with the arrangements for Christmas, unless the applicant is able to prove that they have already attended at mediation.
If separated parents are unable to agree matters through mediation, then they may wish to consider entering into negotiations via solicitors. However, if an agreement cannot be reached in this way, then as I have already mentioned, unless certain exemptions apply, the Court will require the applicant to prove they have attended at mediation, before issuing any application.
If separated parents are unable to agree the arrangements for Christmas through mediation or via solicitors, then they should consider filing an application at Court for a Specific Issue Order. There is a Court fee payable for making this type of application, and both parents will have to comply with whatever decision the Court decides to make.
If you are a separated parent and find yourself in a position where you cannot agree on the arrangements over Christmas with the other parent, then you should obtain advice from a specialist family solicitor as early as possible to, to make sure there is sufficient time to resolve matters if an agreement cannot be reached. Contact us today to speak with one of our family law experts.
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Author: Sam John