Family Court: Purpose and Use

Family courts are there to assist in disputes and disagreements about what is to happen to a child. Judges are obliged to follow what is known as the 'paramountcy principle', meaning that the decisions they need to make must be in the primary or paramount interest of the child. The theory is good, but it however results can be unpredictable.

There are situations that are truly urgent when an application to court must be made immediately e.g. you believe the child is going to be taken abroad. However, when told by an ex that you cannot see your children, or not as much as you believe you should, you really should consider other options first - but without delay.
The reason for this is that:

  • Courts in the UK tend to be painfully slow at resolving disputes – on average proceedings last over six months.
  • If you are not using lawyers, they are stressful.
  • If you are using lawyers (you don't have to), they are expensive and stressful.
  • Your ex may be angry and unreasonable - once a solicitor's letter or court papers land on their doormat they are likely to become angrier and even more unreasonable.
  • You may get less parenting time than you already have or, after considerable delays and no contact, have to re-build your relationship in very small steps.

Read the rest of the guidance in this section to be sure you are taking the best course of action.

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