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What Can I Do If My Partner Is Blocking Contact Or Travel Over The Festive Period?

With the festive period fast approaching, questions that are often asked of family practitioners is how do parents divide the Christmas holidays, in particular, who gets Christmas Day contact and what happens if a parent is blocking contact or travel over the festive period?

As with all matters child related, the Court’s preference is that the parties resolve matters without Court intervention. If you are not able to resolve matters between the two of you, have you consider alternative forms of dispute resolution?

Alternative forms of dispute resolution

Alternative Dispute Resolution (also referred as ADR) includes Mediation, collaborative law and arbitration.


Mediation is a process whereby the parents appoint a Mediator who helps them reach a decision. Mediation is a voluntary process and if you are faced with an ex-partner who is steadfast refusing an action and/or will not deviate from their proposal, in time limited circumstances (it is five weeks before Christmas), this may not be the right option for you.

Collaborative law

Collaborative law is where the parents each appoint a collaborative practitioner and all four individuals will meet over a series of group meetings (known as four-ways) in order to reach an agreement. Having solicitors present may assist with getting parents to re-focus on what is best for their children. Every collaborative practitioner must have received specialised training which assists them in helping the parents avoid Court and reach an agreement that is fair to the whole family. Collaborative law is voluntary, so if the other parent opposes it, it cannot proceed.


Arbitration allows the parents to choose an arbitrator who can make decisions for the parents far quicker than the Court process. The arbitrator will make a determination that is then binding on the parties. Arbitration can be set at the parents pace and so could be used to make a decision about a forthcoming trip. Both parents have to agree to arbitrate.

What happens if the other parent does not want to attend or participate in any of the ADR routes as above?

Whilst Court proceedings should always be avoided, it may be that you don’t have a choice. If you require the Court to make a decision about a forthcoming trip at Christmas or how to divide the Christmas break, you will need to make an urgent application for either a Specific Issue Order or a Child Arrangement Order. For non-urgent matters, the Courts require the applying parent to have a signed MIAM form (Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting form) along with their application form. However, if the matter is urgent due to a deadline, urgency is an exemption to the MIAM requirement.

There is, however, no guarantee that the Court will have enough time to list the matter for a Hearing prior to the Court’s closing before the Christmas break. There have been some cases where the Courts were able to accommodate a Hearing in which the Court gave permission for the children to travel to Scotland with their Mother for the Christmas break, but equally, there have been cases where the matter was not dealt with prior to the event. This largely depends on the individual’s Court work lists. The best tip is to make your application in good time prior to the event to increase the chances of the Court having time to deal with it.

If you need legal advice and would like to speak with one of our family law experts, contact our Children Law Solicitors on 0330 822 3451 or request a call back online.

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