Contact by children with parents after relationship breakdown

Contact by children with parents after relationship breakdown

Each child has the right to regular direct and indirect contact with both parents unless there is a very good reason to the contrary. Children have the right to a relationship with both parents and extended families.

Parents do not stop being parents just because they stop having a relationship with each other. Parents should be encouraged in most cases to talk to each other and make every effort to agree how they will continue to raise and bring up their children after their separation.

It is unwise to use contact handovers to discuss future arrangements for the children. They should try to plan when they will discuss matters and avoid times and situations when the children will be present or able to hear. It is often helpful to confirm the main points discussed and agreed in writing after such discussions.

Children need to know that a separation or divorce is taking place and how it will affect them. Parents should plan what is to be said and if possible should speak to the children together. Children will benefit from hearing the same message from both parents. Such discussions should be kept straightforward and age appropriate. The parents should support each others role in the care of the children in the future

Information to assist parents with talking to each other and talking to the children can be found in numerous places but good practical advice for parents can be found on Resolutions web site advice for parents www.resolution.org.uk/advice_for_parents/

Children acquire two homes on their parent’s separation and the parents need to communicate and plan ahead as activities and events need to be managed from two homes not just one.

Communication can sometimes be difficult or break down all together. It is to the children’s benefit if steps are taken by the parents to get back on track. Talking to trained mediators or family counsellors can often help. Parents can also now attend workshops for separating parents. A contact book passing between the parents is also very helpful way of re- building communication. It also prevents important progress, developmental or essential health information being missed.

Experience has shown that in most cases arrangements reached by agreement between the parents and or the children usually work better than those where arrangements have been imposed on the parties by third parties usually the Courts.

Parents need to remember that their children inherit some of each parent’s traits and personalities and in summary they are a piece of both of them.

When applications to the Court are made the parents are still given the opportunity to try and discuss and agree a way forward for the best interests of the child or children. They will be assisted at Court by experienced mediators. Further mediation sessions can be held within the court process if needed.

There are some exceptional cases where contact will not be in the child’s best interests. Advice should be sought if there are any concerns for the child’s safety and well being. A report by a CAFCASS officer will advise the Court of any child protection issues and how to resolve them for the benefit and protection of the child.