Article by Althaf Hussain of Fountain Solicitors
When a couple divorce, emotions can run rampant.
Some couples use the children of the marriage as a tool for getting back at their ex-partner by denying contact (although it must be pointed out that this is thankfully a rare occurrence). When this happens, the other partner can feel helpless, and must deal with the grief of not seeing their children, sometimes for months on end.
However, there are steps the other partner can take to ensure they are a consistent part of their children’s lives.
Send a letter
The first thing to do if you are facing a denial of contact is to send a letter to your ex-partner stating the date from which contact was denied and asking to reinstate the ability for you to see your children. Explain in the letter that if this does not happen by a certain date, you will instruct a solicitor. Make sure you keep copies of all correspondence between you and your ex-partner so you and your lawyer can refer back to it if necessary.
Interim Contact Order
If your letter produces no response, then you can apply for an Interim Contact Order. This form must be submitted to Court. An Interim Contact Order is an order granted by a Judge allowing you to see your children at certain times. It will cover the period up until you and your ex-partner go to Court to sort out long-term contact arrangements.
Minimal access under an Interim Contact Order
Many people are surprised and shocked that a Judge will often refuse to allow ‘staying contact’ (permission for your children to stay overnight with you), and will often accede to the mother’s demand that only supervised contact should be allowed.
Unfortunately, Family Court Judges are required to act cautiously in these situations, even though it may seem incredibly unfair if you have done nothing wrong.
Make sure you remind the Court of the time that will elapse before the full hearing can occur (often up to six months) and how difficult it will be to become part of your child’s life again after this time. This will normally persuade the presiding Judge to grant some form of contact.
Prior to the hearing, the Court will have obtained a Cafcass (Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service ) Report. A Cafcass Report is a report compiled by Children and Family Reporters. It is their job to interview both parents in the case, as well as the children, and any other person who might be needed, which could include social workers, medical professionals, or even relatives.
In most cases the Court will agree with the findings contained in the Cafcass Report and make an order for contact in accordance with its recommendations.
If your ex-partner still refuses to give you access to your children despite the Court Order, you can take her back to Court and ask that the order be enforced.
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