Getting started with child contact can be really hard especially if there is a feud or no communication between both parents. Not many people know what to do or who to turn to when trying to arrange contact with their child, especially when the other parent doesn't want you to have any contact with that child. The Starting Point Centre has written a step-by-step guide that can help start making child contact possible.
1) Writing to the resident parent
- The first step is to write to the resident parent (or carer) that is looking after your child. In the letter or message, you should mention that you would like to make contact with your child and that you understand the concerns that they may have, which is why you are suggesting doing it in a safe environment at a child contact centre, under the supervision of a support worker.
- If the resident parent agrees then The Starting Point Centre can start the referral process.
- If the resident parent doesn’t agree or ignores your letter, then move to step 2 / step 3
2) The Starting Point Centre contacts resident parent
- Please note we will not be able to do this for you until the £100 referral fee has been paid. Even if you have to go through the next steps and to court, you will only have to pay the £100 referral fee once, so after court, you can come back to us straight away.
- If you are worried about paying the fee and not getting anywhere straight away, then please skip to the next step.
- After you have attempted to make contact with the resident parent, but it was ignored or rejected then we can write to them for you, which normally gets taken a lot more seriously.
- If we make contact with them, they will be invited to the centre for a pre-contact visit to have a look around and make sure they are happy with the centre and any safety issues.
- If it all goes well, we can start arranging contact sessions.
- If the resident parent doesn’t agree or ignores our letter, then move to step 3
- You can email email@example.com for any help or information.
3) Organise Mediation
- After we have both tried to make contact and the resident parent is still refusing, we would suggest trying to organise mediation between you and the resident parent, where a mediator will try to get the resident parent in to discuss appropriate ways on how to make child arrangements.
- You MUST try and arrange mediation before going to court to get a child arrangement order.
- You can find a local mediator by using this link here: https://www.familymediationcouncil.org.uk/find-local-mediator
- You could get up to £500 towards family mediation.7 out of 10 families using mediation resolve their issues without having to go to court. Find out more about the family mediation voucher scheme by going to this link: www.gov.uk/guidance/family-mediation-voucher-scheme
- If it all goes well then we can start arranging contact sessions at a child contact centre
- If the resident parent doesn’t agree or ignores our letter, then move to step 4
- ‘It is the child’s right to see both parents’ therefore if the resident parent is still refusing or ignoring your request for child contact then you would have to go to court.
- Going to court will honour you with a Child Arrangements Order. This is a mandatory order which the resident parent CANNOT refuse, meaning they must obey by it and you can see your child by law.
- You can start applying to the court for the Child Arrangements Order and get more information here: https://apply-to-court-about-child-arrangements.service.justice.gov.uk
- Once we have an official court order in place that the resident parent cannot refuse then we can start booking you in at The Starting Point Centre for child contact sessions.
Help with court advice support & fees
- Going to court can be expensive however you might be able to get legal aid. You can check if you’re eligible for legal aid here: www.gov.uk/check-legal-aid
- You have to pay a £232 court fee to get a child arrangements order. If you're on a low income, you could get help with the fees by going to this website link: www.gov.uk/get-help-with-court-fees
- It’s best to get legal help if you go to court. You contact your nearest Citizens Advice for free advice on help finding a solicitor. www.citizensadvice.org.uk
Here are all the useful links mentioned above :
1). The Starting Point Centre
2). Family Mediation Council – Find a Mediator
3). GOV - £500 Family Mediation Voucher Scheme
4). GOV – Apply for the Child Agreement Court Order
5). GOV – Check if you’re eligible for Legal Aid
6). GOV – Get help with court fees
7). Citizens Advice – Free Help and advice
8). Support Through Court