LEGAL EAGLED: She won’t let me see my son

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I have been having difficulties getting contact with my son, who is now aged 4. His mother and I separated around 6 months ago and she was initially letting me see him twice a week. However, our relationship has gone downhill since I issued divorce proceedings and she has not let me have any contact for the last 3 months. I am worried she won’t let me see him again and that he will forget me. What can I do?

Arrangements regarding children following the breakdown of parents’ relationship are often fraught with difficulty.

If you have already made attempts to resolve matters directly with your wife and these have been unsuccessful, there are a number of routes open to you to have your contact reinstated. Firstly, you could obtain legal advice and instruct your solicitor to write a letter to your wife setting out your proposals for contact.

If this does not work, or your wife fails to respond, then you may wish to consider mediation. This is a process whereby an independent third party would act as a middle man between you and would suggest ways in which an agreement could be reached.

Mediation often proves successful but if this is not the case, you may want to seek advice about issuing an application to court for a Child Arrangements Order. However, I should point out that before you can do this you must have first attended mediation unless one of the limited exceptions to this rule applies.

Once the application has been issued, the court will be guided by what is considered to be in the children’s best interests in deciding whether to order contact. As such, the focus is on what is best for the children, rather than what is best for the parents. Generally speaking, the courts usually take the view that a child’s right to contact with their non-resident parent should be promoted but if there are concerns that their welfare might be negatively affected by contact the court may be reluctant to order contact straight away without further investigation.

Contact cases are very much dependent upon their own set of circumstances so it is difficult to say with any certainty in your case what the outcome would be. I would suggest that you seek independent legal advice about your situation so that you can discuss the full details of your case and bespoke advice can be provided to you.

l Ben Hoare Bell LLP has specialist Solicitors that can advise on issues of childcare and other family matters including relationship breakdown. To speak to a Solicitor ring 0191 565 3112 or email advice@benhoarebell.co.uk. Visit www.benhoarebell.co.uk for more information.