Prioritising Christmas Child Contact: Why Taking Action Now Matters
The Christmas holidays are a time of joy, love, and togetherness. It’s a time when families and friends come together to celebrate and create cherished memories. While it may still be months away, now is the perfect time to start thinking about your Christmas contact plans and why it’s essential to act on them sooner rather than later.
Perhaps one of the most important reasons to think about Christmas contact now is to avoid disappointment and alleviate some of the stress. By thinking about and acting on it in advance, you can establish and continue meaningful traditions with your loved ones.
Consulting with Ridley & Hall sooner rather than later is imperative. With just 62 days (as of 24th October 2023) to Christmas, time is already tight to start negotiations, or list the matter for a Court hearing. The Court system is currently overloaded and therefore, if matters can be agreed between the parties without the need of attending at Court, this will significantly speed up the process.
However, if you are not able to reach an agreement applying to the court for Christmas contact with your children is a significant step, and it’s essential to follow the legal process correctly.
Here are some of the general steps you should consider:
Before going to court, you may be required to attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM) if you haven’t already. This meeting aims to explore whether mediation can help you reach an agreement with the other parent outside of court.
- Contact Ridley & Hall:
It’s highly recommended to consult with a family law solicitor who can guide you through the legal process, assess your situation, and provide you with legal advice.
- Complete the C100 Form:
To apply to the court for child arrangements (which includes Christmas contact), you’ll need to fill out the C100 form. This form is available on the official UK government website, can be obtained from the local family court or from us at Ridley & Hall.
- Provide Necessary Documentation:
You’ll need to gather and submit relevant documents, such as information about your children, your relationship with them, and the proposed Christmas contact schedule.
- Filing the Application:
Submit the completed C100 form and any accompanying documents to the appropriate family court. You may need to pay a fee, but this could be waived or reduced based on your financial circumstances.
- Child Welfare Consideration:
The court will prioritise the welfare of the child. The judge may appoint a Children and Family Reporter (formerly known as a CAFCASS officer) who will investigate and provide a report to the court outlining what is in the best interests of the child.
- Attend Court Hearings:
You may be required to attend court hearings, where both parents will present their cases. The judge will make a decision based on the evidence and the child’s welfare.
- Reaching an Agreement:
If an agreement is reached before or during the court process, this is often the preferred outcome. The court may formalise the agreement into a court order.
- Court Order and Compliance with that Order
If the court decides on the arrangements, they will issue a court order outlining the details of the Christmas contact, including dates, times, and locations.
Both parents must adhere to the court order. If the order is not followed, legal action may be taken.
It’s crucial to remember that each case is unique, and the specific steps may vary based on your circumstances. Working with a solicitor is highly recommended to navigate the legal process effectively and to ensure that the best interests of the child are taken into account.
In conclusion, thinking about Christmas Contact with children in separated families is a crucial step to ensure that the holiday time remains a time of joy, love and togetherness. Act on these considerations now and help children in separated families experience the magic of Christmas.