It is said, that one of the greatest gifts in life is to be a parent.

On special occasions, including Father’s day which is soon approaching, contact can be stressful for separated parents as spending quality time with the children on these special days may require a change to the usual contact arrangements.

Whilst separated parents are generally encouraged to be flexible over the normal contact arrangements so that children can spend quality time with the other parent, and extended family on these special days, it may be difficult for these discussions to take place where communication has broken down or where one party is not taking a sensible approach and is seeking to ‘alienate’ the children from the other parent.

There should be an attempt to agree the arrangements for such special occasions so both parties and the children have certainty about the agreed plans.  This should be done well in advance so that there is no confusion of uncertainty on the day.

If the arrangements cannot be agreed, negotiation or mediation with a third party is recommended, for example with a mediator or a solicitor.  The same approach is recommended if you have never been permitted contact, or have had no contact for a period or a sudden termination of contact.

In some situations, and particularly in cases where an agreement cannot be reached directly or with the assistance of a mediator or solicitor, the last resort would be to take the matter to court to seek a Child Arrangements Order to specify how contact should be arranged.  As such matters will not be dealt with on an ‘urgent’ basis, you will need to attend mediation before issuing a Court application unless either party is exempt from this requirement. When deciding on whether to make an order the court consider various factors, as set out in the Welfare Checklist. The purpose of the checklist is to ensure that the outcome reached by the court is in the best interest of the children.

The family court may also consider if you have parental responsibility for the children.

If you are not sure if you have parental responsibility or do not know what parental responsibility is, please click the link to find out more. Parental Responsibility: What is it and how is it gained and lost.

We recommend seeking legal advice if you are considering applying to the Court as such cases can be technical.

How can EDS help you?

At Edwards Duthie Shamash Solicitors, we have a dedicated family law team with years of experience in representing parents in Children Act proceedings. For initial legal advice or to check whether you are eligible for Legal Aid, please call the Family Law Department on 0208 514 9000