Contact refers to maintaining a personal relationship with a child. It entitles a person to see, spend time with (visit or be visited) or communicate (through post, by telephone or any form of electronic communication) with a child who does not live with that person. The child’s parent/s or a person other than the child’s parent/s (such as grandparent) can obtain the right to contact a child, provided that the contact would serve in the child’s best interests.
What will the court consider when granting an order in respect of contact?
1. The best interests of the child.
2. The nature of the personal relationship between the child and his/her parent/s.
3. The degree of commitment the parent/s has shown towards the child.
4. The extent to which the parent/s has contributed towards the expenses in connection with the birth and maintenance of the child.
5. The likely effect on the child of any change in the child’s circumstances, including the effect of being separated from the parent/s or brothers/sisters with whom the child has been living.
6. Any family violence involving the child or a family member of the child.
7. The need to protect the child from any physical or psychological harm that may be caused by subjecting or exposing the child to maltreatment, abuse, neglect, degradation, violence or harmful behaviour.
8. The child’s age, maturity, stage of development, gender, background and relevant characteristics of the child.
9. Any disability that a child may have and any chronic illness from which a child may suffer from.
A parenting plan will contain a clause setting out the reasonable contact that the parent of alternate residence shall have with the child during term time and school holidays, taking into account the child’s social, school and extra-mural activities.
There are an infinite number of possibilities available when drawing up a parenting plan. Jobs, schools and a variety of other factors must still be taken into account. The bottom line is to find a plan that works for the whole family.
This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)