As summer holidays draw to a close, it may be worth thinking ahead for Christmas if you’re a separated parent.
If you and your ex can’t agree about where the kids should spend Christmas, you shouldn’t wait until your advent calendar is open to seek legal advice! Christmas can often be a difficult time for divorced couples and their families, but with a proper arrangement in place, the holidays can be managed to suit both parties.
While many separated couples can sort this out between themselves, if that isn’t possible you may need to ask your lawyer to get involved. They can draft letters and arrangements on your behalf. Sometimes this kind of thing can be resolved through mediation – but that takes time to organise, and there may be a waiting list for some mediation services. Therefore, it is vital to be proactive and start the proceedings for Christmas contact as soon as possible.
If all else fails, you might even need to ask a court to resolve the dispute – and if so, you need to allow enough time for that process. Every case is different, and the court will always act on the best interests of the child.
While we can normally get your paperwork submitted to the court quickly, we have no control over how long the court process takes after that. The papers have to be processed by the clerk’s office and formally served on your ex. Unfortunately, you cannot simply email these documents across. Normally, the court will want to hear from both parents and their solicitors before deciding. Depending on how busy the court is, it might take several weeks before a hearing can be fixed.
While the court will usually prioritise cases involving children, there’s no guarantee that they will consider a Christmas contact dispute urgent. If you already have a court order about your kids, double check that it covers Christmas too. If not, you can ask the court to change the order if you and your ex can’t agree, but that also takes time.
So, if you think there might be an issue this Xmas, it’s worth taking legal advice before the clocks go forward. You don’t have to go to court if you don’t want to, but it can be helpful just to talk over the issues with a solicitor – we can help you decide how to approach your ex to get things sorted out.