What Can I Do If My Ex Stops Me Seeing My Child?

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Sarah Whitelegge - Senior Associate

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Are you prevented from seeing your children

If you have separated or are in the process of separating, we understand that one of the hardest things is not seeing your child every day.

Knowing your rights regarding contact and what to do if either or both of you cannot reach an agreement about contact with your child can be very confusing and daunting.

Below, our Family Law Solicitors have listed the options available depending on the individual circumstances of your case.

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Talk to your ex

The first step (if it is safe to speak with your ex and you feel comfortable doing so) is to discuss the original agreement with each other.

You could both attempt to update or change the agreement so that any contact suits you both but also keeps the child's best interests in mind.

If there are handover or supervision issues, it may also be worth arranging for contact at a child contact centre.

A contact centre can assist with supervising contact, facilitating handover arrangements, and providing a neutral, safe place for the other parent and your child to meet and spend time together.

The National Association of Contact Centres can provide further information.

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Talk to your ex

Create a parenting plan

The Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (CAFCASS) is an organisation that provides advice and support to separated parents.

As part of the support offered, you can download a template, 'Parenting Plan' from their website.

A parenting plan is a written agreement between both parties to govern the co-parenting of your child.

The plan helps to provide stability for the child and creates a clear focus on the child's needs.

The existence of a parenting plan may help both parties adhere to its contents and allow both parents to suggest relevant or necessary inclusions.

If contact agreements fall through, the Family courts usually expect parties to have attempted to follow a parenting plan first, so it is always worth trying this option.  

Everything You Need To Know About Children and Divorce

Parenting plan

Family mediation

If agreeing with the other parent about the time your child spends with you is impossible, consider mediation.

Mediation works by helping parents who have decided to separate to talk things through with a neutral, independent 3rd party.

Mediators are trained to help you discuss and agree on the best arrangements for the future. 

Mediation helps you make informed decisions for your circumstances and helps children by helping their parents work together to plan for their future.

If you cannot reach an agreement at mediation, consider applying to the family court for a child arrangement order.

One of our Child Law Solicitors can assist you with an application to the court to formalise contact arrangements via a child arrangement order.

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mediation v4

What is a child arrangement order?

A child arrangement order (CAO) is an order that regulates the arrangements for a child that relate to any of the following: 

  • With whom the child is to live, spend time or otherwise have contact
  • When the child is to live, spend time or otherwise have contact with any person

The CAO will regulate the contact arrangements and determine, for example, who the child will live with or whether the child lives primarily with one parent but will see the other parent for X amount of time per week.

The other parent will be named in the order, and the parent with whom the child lives must allow the child to visit, stay, or have contact with the other named parent under the CAO.

Contact means the time that a child spends with an adult. There are several ways that contact may take place:

  • Direct contact, e.g. a few hours on certain days (especially for babies/younger children)
  • Overnight staying contact
  • Supervised contact, e.g. by a 3rd party or at a contact centre, as mentioned above
  • Indirect contact, e.g. video calls, letters, or emails

In deciding whether to make an order, the court's paramount consideration is the child's welfare.

Unless the contrary is shown, the court must presume that each parent's involvement (of some direct or indirect kind but not any particular division of the child's time) in the child's life will further the child's welfare. 

The CAO will continue until the child is 16 or, in exceptional circumstances, until 18.

How To Support Children Through Divorce

What is a child arrangement order

Do I have to pay maintenance if I do not see my child?

Regardless of whether you spend time with your child, you will still have an obligation to support them.

The payment is a contribution to the expenses the resident parent incurs to look after the child while the child is in their care, such as food, clothing, activities, etc.

Child maintenance is assessed based on a percentage of the non-resident parent's gross annual income, depending on the number of children they must support and whether the child has any overnight stays.

You can calculate how much child maintenance you may be expected to pay using the online child maintenance calculator.

If you cannot agree on the amount of child maintenance to pay between yourselves, either party can apply to the Child Maintenance Service to calculate the exact maintenance to be paid.

Find Out More About Paying Child Maintenance

Do I have to pay maintenance if I do not see my child

Contact Myerson Solicitors

If you have any more questions or would like more information, you can contact our Family Law Solicitors on:

0161 941 4000

Sarah Whitelegge's profile picture

Sarah Whitelegge

Senior Associate

Sarah has over 17 years of experience acting as a Family solicitor. Sarah has specialist expertise in complex children matters and has experience of dealing with applications for child arrangement orders, prohibited steps orders, and special guardianship orders.

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