Reason to stop child contact with the other parent?
Updated: Mar 24, 2022
What is stopping of Child Contact and who can do so?
At times, the contact with the parent could be harmful to the child. Sad, but true. The law considers that the involvement of both the parents is beneficial to the child unless there is a risk of harm to the child (Section 1 (2A) & 1 (6) Children Act. 1989). This is an important addition to the Family Law legislation.
Until now some parents especially fathers have suffered a situation where they are denied involvement in the life of their own child or children. The addition of the Section 1 Subsection 2A in the Children Act 1989 recognises the fact that it is in the best interest of the children that until unless it is proven otherwise the involvement of both the parents is beneficial to the child.
In subsection (2A) “parent” means a parent of the child concerned; and, for the purposes of that subsection, a parent of the child concerned—
(a) is within this paragraph if that parent can be involved in the child's life in a way that does not put the child at risk of suffering harm; and
(b) is to be treated as being within paragraph (a) unless there is some evidence before the court in the particular proceedings to suggest that involvement of that parent in the child's life would put the child at risk of suffering harm whatever the form of the involvement.
As a parent one would always strive to do what is best for your child and how to prevent any risk which may be harmful to your child. It is always necessary to look at with whom your child is having contact.
There is a lot of controversy in regards to the powers granted by the legislation and the common law to social services two care workers to the courts and that to the police. however, it cannot be ignored that sadly but truly seldom if not often there are situations where some children have been harm by those who should be caring for those children. It is sad but true, a disgusting reality.
It is assumed that it was for these reasons that the law, the legislation, the common law Andy powers give in to many authorities well-framed keeping the best interest of the children in mind.
However, the experience of this author is, having assisted many parents and grandparents that due to lack of training of social service workers off overworked and over pressured Cafcass workers sadly sometimes the analysts based on which these powers are used are sadly misplaced and cause the opposite effect what they intended to actually do.
It cannot be taken lightly that if these authorities make mistakes they can at times have impacted the life of these children negatively. There is an old saying that the proof is in the pudding, if that was not true not so many orders made by junior courts would be overturned on appeal.
That said, where the contact of both or one parent is harmful to the child, the local authority has the right to take the child into safe custody as per child protection order.
One parent of the child can prevent the other parent from making contact with the child.
What is a Child Contact?
All parents have the responsibility to take care of their child/children and maintain regular contact with them.
Child Contact is when parents of the child see or make any kind of contact with their child. Given the ‘Common Law’ parlance of the nature of English Law, parents do not possess rights, parents have responsibility. That said parents can make contact with their child unless specifically stopped by a court order or another authority, due to certain reasons some of which are explained below.
What are the reasons for stopping Child Contact?
First thing first stopping the contact of a child with any of his or her parents should not be taken lightly ever. As a matter of fact, we at court help limited believe that unless proven otherwise involvement of both the parents is in the best interest of the child. The ethics of Court Help Limited have actually led to our firm refusing to serve some potential clients who wanted to use children as a weapon against their ex-partner.
The stopping of child contact can be due to serious reasons. Sadly, in divorce or relationship breakups cases, when there is a disagreement and lack of settlement between the parents the access of the child by one parent could be stopped by the other. This is not a good, it is wrong and is generally not in the best interest of the child/children. However, Child Contact should be prevented if the child has suffered or may suffer from physical or phycological or other harm due to such contact with the parent. A divorce or separation is no valid reason to prevent Child Contact.
Some reasons based on which child contact can be stopped are:
Drug or alcohol abuse by the parent
Engagement of a parent or their partner in an ongoing criminal activity that impacts the child’s wellbeing
Domestic abuse or violence by the partner of a parent
Domestic abuse to the child or in front of the child
Any other act which can put the child at risk
Exposure to violence
(This is not a comprehensive list)
Wrong reasons for stopping contact?
Any Parental activity which does not put the child at risk or does not affect the welfare of the child becomes should not be used as a reason to stop Child Contact. Few (not all) reasons which are used but are wrong reasons for stopping Child Contact are:
· Divorce, separation or breakup of parents
· Not being able to agree to the contact pattern
· Jealousy of the new life of the ex-partner
· Not providing child support
· Personal hatred for the other parent even if the other parent loves the child
Can a mother stop the father from contacting his child?
A parent can stop the other parent from contacting the child ONLY if there is a valid reason in the best interest of the child (children) to do so. The courts take a grim view of the parent who stops contact with the child gets the other parent all grandparents without reason other than the welfare of the child.
What if the father is wrongly stopped from Child Contact?
Subject to Parental responsibility the father has the equal rights as that of a mother and equally possesses the right to see his child.
The law does not differentiate the right of parents to access their child and if the father believes that he is being wrongly prevented from having a Child Contract without any valid reason or court order, then he should immediately get legal advice and immediately consider his options.
Subject to being instructed, we at Court Help Limited can assist too. Please contact us.
Subject to no injunction being there, and it being safe, the father should initially mediate with the mother instead of getting into the legal hustle. If these options do no good, then he should apply to get a child arrangement order from the court.
The team at Court Help Limited has helped many parents with child arrangement order applications. If you wish to obtain any related issue, you may get our legal support on such family matters.
How to stop my ex-spouse/ex-partner from contacting my child?
If you want to stop your ex-spouse/ex-partner from having contact with the child, you would need to apply for a Prohibited Steps Order, as the other parent has the right to practise his parental responsibility. A child arrangement order or child contact order helps in deciding the living arrangements of the child and accordingly stops the other parent from accessing the child. In a situation where the other parents do not follow the court order and breaches the terms of the prior order without any valid reason, you may accordingly approach the court and ask request for the enforcement of such order. The court may, along with enforcement of the order, punish the other parent through fine or imprisonment.
Is the court order necessary for preventing Child Contact?
Unless it is an immediate/urgent situation, in general, yes in order to prevent the other parent from accessing the child you have to get a Prohibited Steps Order.
Any resolution other than court order can be easily breached by the other parent while facing no or minimal repercussions. Hence, court order is the most effective solution and if such court order is breached by the other parent without a valid reason, he or she will face the possibility of legal consequences.
What to do if I am stopped from having Child Contact?
If a Prohibitive Steps Order has been passed against you which stops you from having a Child Contact, then you should consider the reason of such order and challenge the grounds of the order, fight the order in the court of law to get it discharged.
What options does a court have while deciding the Child Contact order?
The primary object of the court is to safeguard the interest and welfare of the child. Hence, if the court comes to a conclusion that no harm is being caused to the child due to the Child Contact of the parent, it may completely dismiss the application.
On the other hand, the court can either take strict action where it can completely prevent access to the child due to underlined reasons or, it may decide the timing, means and other terms of child access.
Amongst other points, the court takes its decision based on the following factors:
· Feelings and wishes of the child
· Age, sex, characteristics of the child
· Physical, emotional and educational needs
· Capability of parents meeting the child
· Harm caused or likely to be caused
What if the child is reluctant in having contact with the parent?
There can be a situation where the child is aligned with the resident parent and is reluctant in having any contact with the other parent.
In such a situation, the parents should understand the reason why the child does not want to have contact with the other parent.
The court will also consider the interest of the child and the reason of his reluctance, however, if the court is of the view that the Child Contact of the other parent is in the interest of the child, then such order shall be followed accordingly.
What rights does a parent has once the court has stopped the Child Contact?
If the court has prohibited Child Contact with the other parent, the other rights of the parent is not lost, unless otherwise provided. The parent still has the parental responsibility/paternity or maternity right which he or she has full right to exercise.
In case where the parent does not have parental responsibility rights, the parent can either get into out of court agreement with the other parent, if not possible, then apply for parental responsibility in the court by way of parental responsibility agreement.
How can we help?
If you need legal support, contact our specialists in the family law team at Court Help Limited. As on date, as a firm, we have a combined 25 years of Family Law experience and we specialise in Family Law.
Family Law is all we do, and all we do is Family Law.
This article is NOT legal advice and should NOT be treated as legal advice.