If you’re a solicitor negotiating child contact between separated parents, using a contact centre won’t be a new concept. Contact centres provide a neutral and safe environment for everyone involved, and a truly expert centre will take a holistic view to make sure that every base is covered.
However, you’ll also be very familiar with the reluctance of parents when it comes to using a contact centre. Whether that’s the resident parent who doesn’t think contact is appropriate, or the non-resident parent who wants contact to happen on their own terms. Sometimes, as a legal professional it feels as though you can’t do right for doing wrong. In fact sometimes, making contact work can feel like you’ve got two warring clients that it’s your responsibility to manage, when it’s not.
Here we’re exploring some of the most common reasons why parents don’t want their children to experience a contact centre, or have their contact take place there.
The resident parent’s perspective.
There are a couple of things a resident parent might be worried about when it comes to contact centres. Particularly if they’ve suffered abuse from their ex partner and genuinely believe that there’s a risk to the child.
They don’t want to see the non-resident parent.
If a separation has involved a lot of toxicity and conflict (for example if the non-resident parent was abusive, or if they’re a risk to the children) it’s not uncommon for the resident parent to resist their child having contact due to the risk of having to see their ex partner.
This is why it’s so important to have an expert team on hand to manage handovers, and make arrangements in such a way that everyone feels safe.
The tension could cause stress for the children.
In situations where there’s a lot of unresolved conflict, the children will be able to pick up on that. A parent who is the primary carer might feel that this defeats the objective of using a contact centre and that the needs of their children simply aren’t being met.
And we completely understand that. That’s why we work hard to make sure that any questions are answered, and any concerns addressed. Parents need to know that their kids are going to be OK.
The non-resident parent’s perspective.
A non-resident parent will have concerns that are just as valid. Here’s what they might be thinking about using a contact centre.
There’s no point because it’s not real contact.
This is a really common thought process for non-resident parents. Many feel like seeing their child at a contact centre won’t add anything to the relationship with their child, especially if their child doesn’t know them very well, they live far away, or there’s been a history of abuse.
But indirect contact does have a point. Even when something doesn’t appear to be meaningful, the regularity of the engagement shows that the non-resident parent is putting in the effort to get to know their child. That won’t go unrecognised. All contact is meaningful, and it’s one of our top priorities to ensure that comes across.
It’s painful to see my child this way.
If there have been complications in the past, the child may not want to engage in the contact. Non-resident parents may find it difficult, for example, if their child doesn’t want to speak to them at all, or if they’re afraid or upset by them. On the other hand, it might be difficult for the non-resident parent to say goodbye to their child, especially if their child doesn’t want to leave.
However, again this comes down to how the contact is handled. At Starting Point, we try our best to ensure that your child is happy and feels safe. Because that’s the first step to successful contact.
Ultimately, using a contact centre is such a helpful way for your clients to have that meaningful contact with their children. It’s important to recognise why some parents are reluctant to use them, so that you can reassure them that it’s going to benefit everyone in the long run. And in the circumstances where things just don’t work out, at least everyone knows
Starting Point wants to see those important relationships have the best possible chance , which is why we strive to create the best possible environment for that to happen. If you’re interested in finding out more about us, then please send your clients our way, or get in touch with us today, and we’d love to talk to you.