Judge asked for M4 direction urges separated parents not to waste his time

Judge Stephen Wildblood says family court lists are being filled with ‘unnecessary’ parental disputes over children

M4
M4

A family court judge asked to decide at which motorway junction a child should be handed over has urged separated parents not to waste judges’ time.

Judge Stephen Wildblood says family court lists are “clogged up” with “unnecessary” parental disputes.

The judge, who is based in Bristol, says his concerns are shared by other family court judges in the West Country.

He has outlined his thoughts in a ruling centred on a case involving a parental dispute over a child and given examples of recent “requests for micro-management”.

They included an argument about which M4 junction people should meet to hand over a child, and a dispute about how “contact” should be arranged with a parent on a Sunday afternoon.

“We wish to provide members of the public with the legal service that they deserve and need,” said Judge Wildblood.

“However, if our lists are clogged up with this type of unnecessary, high-conflict private law litigation, we will not be able to do so.”

In 2018, a more senior judge raised similar concerns.

Sir James Munby, then-president of the Family Division of the High Court – and most senior family court judge in England and Wales, told how he had once been asked to rule on a disagreement about the length of a boy’s hair.

He said the boy’s father wanted a “crew cut” and the mother “more flowing locks”.

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