Family Law Blog : Tinsel, Turkey & Contact !
Liz Davies Family Lawyer
contact, law firm, Divorce
I went to my local florist this week to pick up some flowers for my Mother’s birthday. I was a little surprised to see the shop card stand full of Christmas cards. I was told that they were selling fast which brought home that Christmas is only 13 weeks away. Scary I know but time is running out! You may ask why I am thinking like that, well you will find that at this time of year family lawyers are thinking about the “Christmas Rush”. I don’t mean traipsing around the shops, red faced and exhausted with lists coming out of our ears. I mean the contact Christmas rush when people suddenly realise that they have not sorted out who will be having the children this year or that they had not realised that Christmas this year falls on a Wednesday. Hopefully most parents will have a situation where they are able to discuss the Christmas plans with their former partner but in some cases this is just not possible. I saw a gentleman last week who found that as soon as he mentioned Christmas contact to his former partner she came up with excuses about the contact arrangement that had been working well for the last 8 months and that it was just not possible to allow him to have contact on Christmas Day.
If this is the case for you then you have three options to consider:
1. Write a letter now to your former partner (assuming you cannot speak to them direct) and set out your proposals for contact over the Christmas period. If you like put in specific times for collection and return and don’t forget to include New Year if you want that as well. Allow them time to consider the matter and get back to you. Just because they have not replied instantly does not mean contact cannot be sorted. On the other hand don’t leave it to the last minute. One year I had a client ring me a week before Christmas to say they wanted to sort it out with an order from the court. It just isn’t going to happen. You need to plan ahead. If you think a solicitor’s letter will be better then contact us and get it done sooner rather than later. It just needs to set out your proposals and if necessary set a date for a response say in ten days.
2. If you don’t think a letter will help then how about Family Mediation. This is a way of communicating directly with your former partner, usually around a table with a trained mediator present to assist you and help guide you towards a mutual agreement. Obviously both parties have to attend and be prepared to negotiate but it is still a preferred option from some clients as it can be quicker and more cost effective than court proceedings. Speak to me if you think this will help you.
3. Court proceedings – Be warned that to issue proceedings can be time consuming and costly and you can never have a 100% guarantee that you will get exactly what you want. Court proceedings can take some time to conclude and at this time of year the court is starting to receive applications from parents to deal specifically with Christmas Contact. As more and more applications are issued then a date for an initial hearing will be moving further away. There are only so many applications that can be listed for one day.
If you are hoping to spend Christmas with your children and the arrangements are not yet agreed then I would suggest that you do start to give the matter serious consideration now rather than have to make that call to me or one of my fellow lawyers a week before Christmas seeking a court hearing prior to 25th December. You might just hear our heads hit the desk!
Liz Davies FCILEx
, divorce lawyer
, Family Law Lawyer
, Family Law Solicitors
, family lawyers
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