Judge warns against unnecessary children applications

A judgment handed down last Friday contains an important lesson for all parents involved in disputes over arrangements for their children.

Such disputes can throw up many issues. Some of those issues will of course be of great importance, requiring the intervention of the court. But many of the issues are actually comparatively trivial, although it may not seem that way to the parents.

In the judgment the judge warned parents against clogging up the courts with unnecessary children applications.

He gave examples of the sort of applications he was referring to (all of which arose before him in the previous month):

“i) At which junction of the M4 should a child be handed over for contact? ii) Which parent should hold the children’s passports (in a case where there was no suggestion that either parent would detain the children outside the jurisdiction? iii) How should contact be arranged to take place on a Sunday afternoon?”

Other judges, he said, have given him many other, similar examples.

He concluded:

“…the message in this judgment to parties and lawyers is this, as far as I am concerned. Do not bring your private law litigation to the Family court here unless it is genuinely necessary for you to do so. You should settle your differences (or those of your clients) away from court, except where that is not possible. If you do bring unnecessary cases to this court, you will be criticised, and sanctions may be imposed upon you. There are many other ways to settle disagreements, such as mediation.”

It is a message that should be heeded by all parents involved in disputes over arrangements for their children: before you rush off to court, stop and think whether you really need to. Can you resolve the matter without going to court, possibly via mediation?

And remember the warning: the courts are very busy – if you waste court time then you could be criticised by the judge, and even sanctioned, for example by being ordered to pay the other party’s costs.

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If you are contemplating making an application to the court in relation to a dispute over arrangements for children then we would strongly recommend that you first seek the advice of an expert family lawyer. Family Law Café can put you in touch with such an expert – for further information, call us on 020 3904 0506, or click here, and fill in the form.

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Family Law Cafe’s accessible team of legal experts from various disciplines expedites the customer’s case and keeps them informed and in control 24/7 through a unique and secure online portal. Family Law Cafe is your start-point for getting matters sorted with strategy, support and security.

Image: J Taylor / M4 Bus Lane from Osterley Lane bridge, licensed under CC BY 2.0.