This page provides answers to FAQ’s regarding Christmas Holidays and the family law issues which are particularly relevant at this time of the year.
Are the family courts closed over the Christmas holidays?
Crown Courts, magistrates’ courts, County and Family Courts, the Royal Courts of Justice and the Rolls Building, and tribunals will close over the Christmas period, although some emergency courts may operate over the holiday on these days. Please check before travelling. See Find a court or tribunal for details.
The holiday dates for 2020 are:
- Thursday 24 December 2020
- Friday 25 December 2020
- Monday 28 December 2020
- Friday 1 January 2021
Some emergency courts may operate over the holiday. See court and tribunal finder for details.
In the case of there being no court order in place, what should the arrangements be for residence/contact over the Christmas holidays?
There is nothing legally governing what the contact/residence arrangements should be over the Christmas holidays. Parents and wider family should make arrangements as early as possible and be fair and reasonable in determining the arrangements.
In the case of there being no court order in place, what can I, as the non-resident parent do, if the resident parent refuses contact over the Christmas holidays?
The resident parent is expected to be reasonable in promoting contact. This is particularly important over the holiday period. However, it is not unlawful for the resident parent to refuse contact to the non-resident parent in the absence of a court order. Contact should really only be refused if there are concerns. Ultimately, there is no short-term fix and the non-resident parent may need to consider applying for a legally binding court order to govern contact arrangements (including Christmas holidays) for the future. Please see our page on contact for further information.
In the case of there being a court order in place, what can I, as the non-resident parent do, if the resident parent informs me ahead of time that they will not be providing the contact as per the court order over the Christmas holidays?
The non-resident parent is unable to apply for enforcement of the court order as a pre-emptive measure. An application can only be made once the breach of the court order has occured. The non-resident parent should remind the resident parent that there is a legally binding court order in place governing the Christmas arrangements and they will be in breach of the order if they do not provide the contact as per the court order.
In the case of there being a court order in place, what can I, as the non-resident parent do, if the resident parent does not provide the contact as per the court order over the Christmas holidays?
The non-resident parent can enforce the order once the courts have re-opened after the Christmas holidays. The court have the power to sanction the resident parent if they do not have a reasonable justification for breaching the court order. If the breach occurs at a time when the courts are not closed, it may be possible to enforce the order but it depends on the capacity of the court at the time of the application. It is not in the remit of the Police to facilitate court ordered contact as it is a civil issue.
In the case of there being a court order in place, what can I do if Christmas holiday arrangements are not stipulated in the final order?
It is important that parties have holiday arrangements stipulated in their final order. However, if this is not the case, the residence/contact arrangements would continue as normal as per the court order. Parties are expected to be reasonable and are entitled to deviate from the court order if the circumstances are particularly unfair on one party.