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Courts gear up to settle rows over who has kids for Christmas

Family lawyers reported a surge of acrimonious disputes in the run-up to the festive period, as parents battled it out in court to see who will spend Christmas with their children.

The rush for child welfare hearings is impinging on an already overburdened legal system, which will see some sheriffs and solicitors in court today to settle the arguments.

Some 13,000 divorces were granted in Scotland last year and with the average cohabiting relationship lasting just three years, a great many more unmarried couples also split up every year.

Children, say the lawyers, are the casualties and are caught in a bitter tug-of-war to see who gets access on Christmas Day.

John Fotheringham, a family law expert with Fyfe Ireland solicitors in Edinburgh, said such disputes were among the hardest to resolve. He said: “The courts of Scotland are about to face the annual surge of cases in which sheriffs are asked to make decisions about who is to have Christmas lunch with the kids, or to whose house Santa will bring the presents first.

“All too often, the question of contact at Christmas descends into a repeat of battles about other things: money; debts or who was to blame for the split.

“And the day of all days which should be free of strife becomes the focus of everything else that went wrong over years of a former relationship.”

Full story at The Scotsman.

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