How Exeter City’s persistence is a lesson for all during family court proceedings.
Family law

How Exeter City’s persistence is a lesson for all during family court proceedings.

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James Harbottle
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How Exeter City’s persistence is a lesson for all during family court proceedings.How Exeter City’s persistence is a lesson for all during family court proceedings.

Many congratulations to Exeter City F.C, who last week secured automatic promotion from League Two.

And the Grecians’ success came after five years of promotion near-misses, including being beaten in the final of the play-off in 2017, 2018 and 2020.

It is a story of persistence and determination that is a lesson for us all, including those involved in family court proceedings.

Never give up

If you are involved in family court proceedings it is likely that you will quickly become aware that the law can move at a very slow pace, with final court decisions often not being made for months, or even years, after the proceedings were begun.

And there may be times along the way when things do not seem to be going against you, or you simply feel that you no longer have the energy to continue.

It is therefore important that before you start proceedings you are prepared to be in it for the long haul.

Perhaps nowhere is this more true than in applications relating to contact with children. All children should if possible retain contact with both of their parents, so it is especially essential that the parent with whom the child is not living does not give up on a contact application.

Father seeking contactHow Exeter City’s persistence is a lesson for all during family court proceedings.

Let us take as an example a case of a father seeking contact with his child. He used to have the child stay with him every weekend, but the mother stopped the contact, claiming that the child was at risk of harm if the contact were to continue.

As a result the father has had no contact with his child for several months.

Disagreeing with the mother, and seeing no real reason why contact should not be immediately reinstated to what it was, he applies to the court for a child arrangements order.

But if the father expects the court to immediately order that the weekend contact be re-established, then he is likely to be sorely disappointed.

It must be understood that until the application was made the court probably did not even know of the family. Obviously, a court cannot normally made an order in relation to a child until the matter has been fully investigated, and the court can make a decision as to what is best for the child’s welfare.

And such an investigation is likely to take several months. Meanwhile, the court may only be able to ‘offer’ the father limited contact with the child, for example supervised contact at a contact centre.

Supervised contact may even form part of the court’s investigation into what is best for the child, being used as a safe way to test how the father behaves when contact takes place, and how the child responds to contact.

Instead of having his weekend contact immediately re-established, the father may well find himself facing a lengthy period of contact that he finds far from satisfactory. He may well feel aggrieved at this, and even be tempted to give up on his application.

But he should not. He must be patient and persevere. If there is really no good reason for the contact to go back to what it was, then the court is ultimately likely to agree that that is the best thing for the child’s welfare, and make the order that the father seeks.

It’s just going to take a lot longer than he originally hoped.

Exeter City played the long gameExeter family court proceedings.

Courts can move very slowly, especially at times like this when they are extremely busy, and resources are short.

And when it comes to proceedings relating to children the court’s paramount consideration is the welfare of the child. This simply cannot usually be determined without a lengthy investigation.

Frustrating as it may be, sometimes in family court proceedings you just have to play the ‘long game’, with persistence and determination.

Which brings us back to Exeter City. Once again congratulations to them, and the best of luck next season in League One, where they will be playing local rivals Plymouth, who sadly missed out on a play-off spot.