If contact with a child is disputed, the court can make an order which requires the resident parent to allow contact between the child and the applicant. The applicant can be a non-resident parent, another relative or anyone with whom the child has lived with for over three years. There is a presumption that a child has a right to have contact with both parents, but this contact may need to be arranged in a way to suit you and your child. Contact with both parents is generally considered to be for the benefit of the child.
A contact order can specify when contact should take place, how long for and where, but can also allow for the parties to work contact out between them. There are various forms of contact that are detailed below to suit all circumstances. If you are worried about something happening during contact, for example the child spending time with a specific person or doing a certain activity, the contact can address those specific issues.
It is important that the type of contact is tailored to ensured that the child is comfortable at all times, and that their relationship with their parents is maintained and moved forward. As with residence orders, when making contact orders the court will consider the preferences and needs of the child as well as the circumstances of the parents.
If you have a contact order in place to see a child and that order is being breached or frustrated, we can help you to resolve this and resume proper contact between you and your child by negotiation or, if necessary, applying to the court for an enforcement of the order.
Types of contact:
This is when the child has direct, face-to-face contact with the applicant. This could include the child visiting the applicant’s house, going on a day out in a public place or an overnight staying contact. Direct contact can be arranged for any amount of time from a few hours for lunch to staying contact over half of school holidays. It can also be supervised or unsupervised, depending on the child’s needs and any safeguarding issues.
Indirect contact can include Skype sessions, telephone conversations or letter writing. It can be closely monitored or can be as and when needed, especially in the case of older children. Indirect contact can be used as an alternative to direct contact, or can work alongside direct contact to increase communication. It may be appropriate to use indirect contact in long distance cases or where contact needs to be built up gradually.
In some circumstances, it may be necessary for contact with the child to be supervised by someone else such as a friend or relative. This may be because the child needs additional care due to being very young or having a disability or where there are safeguarding issues. Supervised contact allowed the contact to be monitored as closely as is required but means the contact can still take place if there are any concerns. Supervised contact can also be used when the relationship between the child and the applicant needs to be developed until unsupervised contact is suitable.
Contact centres are sometimes recommended for structured contact between a parent (or other party) and a child. This is sometimes used if the child is at risk during the contact, if the child is young and has not seen the party in a long time. A contact centre can be temporary solution until normal contact is resumed, or as a regular appointment. It provides a comfortable and secure environment for contact to take place with professional and independent staff on hand. We can help you decide if a contact centre is appropriate for your situation and if you decided it is, we will help you make a referral to a contact centre to move contact arrangements forward.