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My ex won't let me see our kids. What can I do?

View profile for Karen Johnson
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The breakdown of a relationship is hard on everybody involved. It can have a devastating impact upon the children of the relationship if the issues arising as a result of the breakdown are not dealt with appropriately.

It could be said in most cases that there is nothing stronger than a parent’s love for their child and that most parents would do everything humanly possible in order to ensure that their child is able to grow up to be a happy, healthy and well-rounded adult. It is, therefore, not surprising that when a disagreement arises between parents, this can result in one of the most difficult and emotive issues to be addressed.

The court’s position is that they would prefer for parents to be able to reach an agreement in relation to the arrangements for their children, and they will only make an order if it is better for the child than for there to be no order. However, in the event that this is not possible, then either parent can make an application to the court. If you are being denied the ability to spend time with the children, it is likely that your application should be for a Child Arrangements Order.

In the event that a court is asked to make a decision as to what arrangements should be put in place, they will make their decision based upon what they consider to be in the child’s best interests. To assist with this decision, the Judge must take into account a number of factors called “the Welfare Checklist”. These factors include:

  • the child’s wishes and feelings, taking into account their age, maturity and understanding
  • the child’s needs, the parent’s ability to meet those needs, and;
  • the effect of any change in circumstances

There is a presumption that, in the absence of safety risks, it is in the child’s best interests to be able to spend good quality time with both parents. This reflects the fact that it is recognised that ideally both parents are equally as important to ensuring the child has a good upbringing.

This does not mean that you each have a right to the child spending half of their time with you, and it is really important to recognise that children are not assets who are owned and can be divided as part of the separation. It is a far better approach to consider that both parents are expected to encourage, promote and facilitate arrangements for the children which enable the children to enjoy a good quality and meaningful relationship with both parents.

In the event of a disagreement regarding the arrangements for children, early advice from a solicitor is invaluable. A solicitor can help to identify the relevant issues and explain how the law operates in your circumstances, as well as give practical advice and assistance to help resolve matters in a way which is constructive, non-confrontational and puts the best interests of the children first.

If you have any questions or would like any advice in relation to issues surrounding child arrangements or separation, please do not hesitate to contact one of our divorce and separation lawyers. I am based in our Colchester office and can be contacted on 01206 217305 or karen.johnson@birkettlong.co.uk.

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