Why contact centres need to step up

When arranging contact in family law matters, the entire process needs to be as fast and smooth as possible. This is so any distress caused to children is minimised, and delay and inconsistency avoided.

Ultimately, there’s only so much parents and solicitors can do. Once contact arrangements are negotiated, contact centres then need to step up and help to make it happen. Here we look at why.

Delays are unacceptable to the court.

When it comes to child proceedings, the court has strict deadlines to adhere to. The law is clear that delays are unacceptable, and most certainly are not in the best interest of the children. When it comes to public law matters, the Child and Families Act 2014 introduced the 26-week ‘time limit’ on how long care proceedings should take to conclude. This time limit was introduced because of the serious concerns about delay in care proceedings, and the impact this was having on children and their families.

Whilst not all cases in family law involve children in care, it presses home the point that the courts don’t appreciate delay. Delay must be avoided at all costs. That means contact centres need to be organised, available and accessible for their children and families when called upon. It’s non-negotiable.

The children should always be put first.

If a non-resident parent is expecting contact with their child, whatever the circumstances, it’s really important that the deadlines are met. Unexpected delays will cause distress for both the parent and the child. The non-resident parent shouldn’t have to wait to meet their child because of a technical hitch or an incomplete referral process.

The same goes for a non-resident parent who has already established contact with their child. If that contact suddenly stops, the disruption caused will have consequences. Children need to have consistent contact with the non-resident parent for it to be meaningful.

A strain on the public purse.

Failure to organise contact in a timely fashion can often result in back and forth court hearings. These repeated hearings can and should be avoided.

Extra court hearings put a bigger strain on the public purse, or the purse of parents meeting the cost of proceedings. Nobody should have to pay for unnecessary legal proceedings just because a contact centre’s referral process isn’t streamlined. A contact centre should be doing everything they can to minimise this delay and lighten the load.

Positive changes are set back.

During proceedings, some parents are striving to make positive changes in their life, changes that will enable them to have contact with their child. They put the effort in because they’ve been given the opportunity to form meaningful and positive relationships with their children.

It’s only right then, that supporting this is an absolute priority. Delay can really damage the resolve of parents who are working hard to make a change.

Accessibility is essential.

Here at Starting Point, we’ve always believed that people should be able to find out which contact centres are available, and provisionally booked, from the courtroom. The referral process needs to be fluid.

That’s why at Starting Point, we’re contactable and accessible. You can find out our availability before the court makes an order to avoid the back and forth.

Everything we do is centred around putting the children first. That means staying organised, staying available, and staying in tune with the needs of parents, children and solicitors.

Get in touch with us today to find out more about how we can help you.