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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

Contact us or call our mobile friendly number 033 33 22 1000 or 0800 987 8156 to book an initial consultation with our Family Law Solicitor.

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