A Contact Order is “an Order requiring the person whom the child lives, or is to live, to allow the child to visit or stay with the person named in the Order, or for that person and the child otherwise to have contact with each other”. The law in this area is governed by the Children Act 1989.
Contact used to be known as, and is sometimes referred to, as “Access”.
A parent of a child can apply to the Court at any time for a Court Order to allow a child to have contact with them. Other people connected to the child, such as grandparents, aunts, uncles, may need to apply to the Court for the Court’s permission to issue an application for contact in the first instance.
To apply to the Court the procedure is as follows: –
An original application is made to the Court with the appropriate Court fee.
The Court then arranges an initial appointment, usually within 21 days of receiving the application. Papers are then sent to the other party.
An Officer of the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (CAFCASS) is usually present at that initial appointment and the parties are encouraged and given the opportunity to see him or her to discuss the case and see if an agreement can be reached.
If an agreement can be reached it can be detailed to the Judge and an Order made. If an agreement cannot be made, the Judge will set a timetable on how the case is to proceed.
The starting point for a Court that it is a child’s right to have contact with both of their parents. The Court will give paramount consideration to the welfare of the child when deciding the issue of contact. The Court will pay specific attention to the following criteria: –
To ascertain the wishes and feelings of the child concerned (considering the child’s age and understanding)
His/her physical, emotional and educational needs
The likely effect on him/her however of a change in circumstances
His or her age, sex, background and any characteristics of his or hers which the Court considers relevant
Any harm which he or she has suffered or is at risk of suffering
How capable each of the parents are and whether the person in relation to whom the Court considers the question to be relevant, is of meeting his or her needs
The range of powers available to the Court
If you require help then our Family Solicitors will be able to assist you with your query. We will always aim to seek a solution or resolve your case / matter outside of the court. Our specialist Family Solicitors understand that family problems can prove extremely stressful and worrying, but ignoring these issues will not make them go away. If you are struggling with Family matter, please Contact us for advice from our specialist solicitors.