Problems over contact with your children

 An excerpt from Lawpack's Separation & DIY Divorce Kit.

Divorce is never intended to end the relationship between parents and their children. The divorce courts generally take the view that children have a right to ongoing contact with their non-resident parent, unless it would be against their interests for contact to take place.

Contact also shouldn't be denied or frustrated by the mother (or carer parent) simply because they are upset with their ex-partner, or even because they may have failed to make maintenance payments.

If one spouse denies the other contact, resulting in the spouse violating the divorce court order, the spouse who is violating the order can be held in contempt, which can lead to them being sent to prison or fined. Do bear in mind, however, that such drastic action doesn't necessarily serve in the best interests of the children and it doesn't ensure that there won't be problems over contact in the future. It's generally true that the most successful contact arrangements are those that are arrived at by agreement between the parents.

Although the carer parent can't deny contact, they can, however, move house within the jurisdiction of the court (England and Wales if your court is there or Scotland, if there) even though it may be to a distant location where contact is likely to be limited, if not lost altogether. However, this may cause the divorce court to intervene to make sure that there's a minimum level of continued contact between the child and the non-carer parent.

If the absent parent isn't happy with the amount of contact they have with the children, they may apply to the divorce court to increase it. Likewise, the parent who is the main carer may apply to the divorce court to limit the contact.

Applications can also be made to the divorce court if a parent is unhappy with any decisions or actions made by one parent in relation to a child of the family. These applications can be for specific issue orders, prohibited step orders, residence orders, as well as for contact.

If insurmountable problems arise regarding the contact between your children and spouse, you should consult a solicitor about the applications you may be entitled to make.

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Published on: October 25, 2010

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