LEGAL EAGLE: ‘My ex wants access to our baby son’

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I have a four month old son with my ex-partner. We broke up when I was pregnant but I still put my ex-partner’s name on the birth certificate. I let my ex have contact with my son every Saturday for three hours but now he is asking for more contact.  

 He wants my son to stay overnight with him on Saturdays and says he is entitled to this level of contact. I don’t feel comfortable with him keeping my son overnight yet as he is so young, do I have to let him?

You are entitled to make a decision together with your ex-partner on the amount of contact he should have with your son. The level of contact he has with your son should be a reasonable amount, which will depend on the individual circumstances. If you do not feel it is appropriate for him to keep your son for overnight contact at the moment then you do not need to agree to this.

 In the first instance, you could discuss your concerns with your ex-partner. You could let him know that you feel your son is too young to stay overnight at the moment but that as your son gets older, the level of contact could increase to overnight stays.

 You might also want to try mediation if you feel you cannot discuss the issue with your ex-partner.

 During mediation you can express your concerns and your ex-partner can explain his position. With the help of the mediator, you can try to reach an agreement about contact in an amicable way.

 If your ex-partner is not happy with the current level of contact he has with your son, he might apply to the court for a Child Arrangements Order.

 This application will ask the court to decide how much contact he should be having with your son. However, this does not mean that a court will decide he should have overnight contact with your son.

 The court will consider the circumstance as a whole but the most important factor is the welfare of the child. The court will therefore consider things such as your son’s age and what is in his best interests when deciding the amount of contact your ex-partner should have with him.

 The court might think that your ex-partner should have his contact increased, but this might be a gradual increase to overnight stays.  

 If your ex-partner does wish to make an application to the court for a Child Arrangements Order, he should normally have tried to solve the matter through mediation first.