Unnecessary child litigation
A judge in the Bristol Family Court recently released a judgment about how the Court’s lists are being filled by child litigation hearings that should not require court involvement. It is worrying to read that His Honour Judge Wildblood QC expects the Bristol Family Court will have double the number of outstanding private children cases than January 2020.
The judgment makes it clear that the Courts wish to provide members of the public with the legal service they deserve and need. However, it also goes on to say that if the lists are clogged up with unnecessary, high-conflict litigation, they will not be able to do so.
His Honour Judge Wildblood QC provides some real-life examples of scenarios that are considered as unnecessary litigation:
- At which junction of the M4 should a child be handed over for contact?
- How should contact be arranged to take place on a Sunday afternoon?
The judgment also brings a stern warning of sanctions being imposed and the possibility of being heavily criticised if an unnecessary case is brought to Court.
The judgment ends on a lighter note, explaining that there are ways of settling potential child litigation disagreements out of Court, such as mediation. These alternative ways of settlement should be given great consideration and are often more cost-effective at resolving the dispute.
Katherine Parker is an associate solicitor in the Family Department at Barker Gotelee Solicitors in Ipswich.