Contact Orders

You may be more familiar with the term “Access” when it comes to having Contact with your children following a Divorce but the term now widely used is “Contact Orders”.

A Contact Order

  • basically requires the person the child is living with to allow the child to stay or visit the person in whose favour the Order was made or at least for them to keep in touch
  • is usually made when two parents cannot agree on the type of Contact they should have with the children. The Order should detail the arrangements that the parties agree on as Contact not only refers to visiting rights and staying, but also covers other forms of communication, such as letters or telephone Contact
  • is a child’s right, not the parents and is mainly for the child’s welfare

Direct Contact involves the child physically meeting up with the parent, and it usually involves visiting or staying.

Visiting Contact usually takes place at the father’s residence.

Staying Contact entails an overnight stay with the non-resident parent.

Interim Contact while arrangements are still being finalised an Interim Contact Order can be made until the final Order is made.

Defined Contact may result from a Court Hearing when a Judge decides on the details for the parent’s Contact with the child.

Reasonable Contact allows both parties to agree on the level of Contact allowed.

Supervised Contact may also be given, and this usually takes place in a Contact Centre, where there are volunteer staff to supervise the meeting. The mother may also specify the place for the Contact, and she or a relative can do the supervising.

Indirect Contact involves the parent not being allowed Direct Contact with the child. When you are granted this type of Order, you may communicate with your child through letters, gifts, phone calls, e-mail, postcards, or other methods other than actual physical Contact.

The mother may refuse to consent to a Contact Order sometimes as leverage in other related negotiations or as a means of hurting the father. If this happens measures can and should be taken without delay. If you are denied Contact write to the mother and request that the Contact be re-established.

As the Court process may take some time it is advisable to apply for an interim Contact Order to regularise the position..

Remember that as a parent you have the right to spend time with your child and be involved in their upbringing. You have a right to be with them, and the Contact Order’s purpose is to protect that right and make sure that you fully exercise it.