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  • Writer's pictureCourt Help Limited

Navigating Child Contact During Legal Disputes: How to get contact with your child?

Updated: Jun 19


Are you being stopped to meet your child because your relationship has broken off or is strained? While the fact is that parents should make every effort to ensure that the child maintains contact with both parents, where safe and appropriate. ut as we know this is far from teh fact and what really happens sadly. This is because children benefit from having a strong and loving relationship with both parents. Contact with both parents can help children develop a sense of identity, self-esteem, and security. It can also help children to learn how to form healthy relationships and to cope with conflict in a positive way.


Child contact, child custody, child arrangement order
Parent & Child contact should continue where safe

In some cases, it may not be possible or safe due to different reasons,

tThis may be due to factors such as domestic violence, abuse, or neglect. In these cases, the court may order supervised visitation or no contact at all. However, even in these cases, it is important for parents to try to maintain a relationship with the child through letters, phone calls, or other means of communication.


 General Principles in Family Law Regarding Child Contact


1. Best Interests of the Child: The paramount consideration in any case involving children is their welfare and best interests. This principle is enshrined in various legal instruments, such as the Children Act 1989 in the UK.

2. Parental Responsibility: Both parents generally retain parental responsibility and rights to maintain a relationship with their child unless there are significant reasons to restrict contact.

3. Continuity and Stability: Courts often emphasize the importance of maintaining continuity and stability in the child’s life, which includes regular contact with both parents where feasible.

4. Impact of Parental Conflict: High levels of conflict between parents can be detrimental to the child, and courts may intervene to facilitate a contact arrangement that minimizes the exposure of the child to such conflict.

 

Notable Cases that the coiurts in England have made orders on include


Child custody, child arrangement other, mother stopping child contact
Contact should continue where safe

 1. CHILD CONTACT AFTER PROLONGED ABSENCE:

- Summary: A case involved a father who sought contact with his children after a prolonged period of absence. The mother opposed contact, citing concerns about the father’s previous behavior and its impact on the children.

- Court Decision: The court granted supervised contact initially, emphasizing the need for re-establishing the relationship gradually and assessing the children’s welfare continuously.

- Analysis: This case highlights the court’s willingness to facilitate contact even when there has been a significant break, provided that measures are put in place to ensure the child’s welfare.


 2. CONTACT TO ENSURE THAT RELATIONSHIP OF THE FATHER AND CHILD IS SAFEGUARDED

- Summary: The mother opposed the father’s contact with the child due to allegations of domestic abuse. The father sought unsupervised contact.

- Court Decision: The court suspended unsupervised contact but allowed supervised visits, with a view to transitioning to unsupervised contact if the visits went well and the father addressed his issues.

- Analysis: The court balanced the need to protect the child from potential harm with the importance of maintaining a relationship with both parents, demonstrating a cautious approach that prioritizes gradual reintroduction and monitoring.


 3. WHAT TO DO WHEN THE MOTHER STOPS CONTACT WITH THE CHILD

  • Summary: A mother unilaterally stopped contact between the children and the father, citing concerns about his behavior. The father applied for a contact order.

  • Court Decision: The court ordered supervised contact, emphasizing that children benefit from maintaining a relationship with both parents unless there is evidence of significant harm.

  • Analysis: This case underscores the court’s position that contact should generally continue even amidst parental disputes, with appropriate safeguards to ensure the child’s safety and well-being.


4. CONTACT IN CASE OF DRUG MISUSE BY A PARENT

  • Summary: This case involved a father with a history of drug misuse who sought contact with his child. The mother opposed the contact due to concerns about the father’s drug use and its impact on the child’s safety and welfare.

  • Court Decision: The House of Lords held that contact should be allowed, but under strict conditions to ensure the child’s safety. Supervised contact was initially ordered, with regular reviews to monitor the father's progress in overcoming his drug addiction.


5. CONTACT ALLOWED WHERE DOMESTOC ABUSE IS SIGHTED

  • Summary: In this case, the mother opposed the father’s contact with their child due to a history of domestic abuse. The father applied for a contact order, arguing that he had changed and wanted to be involved in his child's life.

  • Court Decision: The Court of Appeal emphasized the need to prioritize the child's safety and welfare. The court ordered that contact should be supervised initially, with the possibility of transitioning to unsupervised contact if the father demonstrated sustained behavioral changes and the child's welfare was assured.

  • Analysis: This case highlights the court’s cautious approach in situations involving domestic abuse. The emphasis on supervised contact and the requirement for the father to demonstrate sustained positive changes reflect the court’s commitment to protecting the child while recognizing the potential benefits of maintaining parental relationships.


View on How Child Contact Should Continue Amidst Parental Disputes

These cases illustrate the courts' consistent approach to ensuring child contact continues in the context of parental disputes, with a strong emphasis on the child's best interests and safety. The following principles emerge:


By adhering to these principles, courts aim to balance the benefits of maintaining a relationship with both parents against the need to protect children from potential harm, ensuring that contact arrangements serve the child's overall well-being.


 View on How Child Contact Should Continue Amidst Parental Disputes:


Courts typically strive to ensure that children maintain a relationship with both parents, even in cases of parental dispute. The following approaches are often recommended:

1. Mediation and Dispute Resolution: Encouraging parents to resolve conflicts through mediation or other alternative dispute resolution mechanisms to reach an amicable agreement on contact arrangements.


2. Supervised Contact: Implementing supervised contact initially to ensure the child’s safety while allowing the relationship with the non-resident parent to be maintained and assessed.


3. Gradual Reintroduction: Gradually increasing the frequency and duration of contact, starting with supervised visits and moving towards unsupervised contact as the situation stabilizes.


4. Therapeutic Interventions: Providing therapeutic support to both parents and children to address underlying issues and improve co-parenting dynamics.


5. Parental Education Programs: Requiring parents to attend programs focused on reducing conflict and understanding the impact of disputes on children, thereby promoting cooperative parenting.


If you need to make a Child Arrangement Orders application you will need a C100 form, if you need help with how to fill a C100 form, please read this article. A step by step guide to fill a C100 form is available for your reference.

Further reading as to how to get Child Custody in England is available here.


If you are a Father trying to get Child Contact or Child Custody and need to know how to go about it, please read this article.


PLEASE NOTE THAT THGIS ARTICLE IS NOT LEGAL ADVISE AND SHOULD NOT BE TREATED AS LEGAL ADVISE

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