When parents separate it is ideal to agree from the outset the arrangements for the care of the children, such as which parent the child will principally live with and how much and when they will see the other parent.

Unfortunately, we too often see this not being agreed early on and we find many parents require assistance to ensure they maintain contact with their children or re-establish contact.

Recent statistics show from Gingerbread state that 20% of all children with separated parents do not have any contact at all with the parent they don’t live with and 63% of them ceased contact at the point at which the relationship ended.

By agreeing the terms of contact from the outset, this should mean there is no need for any court intervention. One way of assistance for the parents can be mediation whereby a trained mediator assists the parents to come to an agreement. Mediation is also faster and cheaper than going to court – Government figures say the average time for a mediation case is 110 days compared to 435 days for non-mediation cases. 

However, if court proceedings are unavoidable and application is made to the Family court where the focus is on the best interests of the children. The court will consider any relevant welfare issues, such as the wishes and feelings of the children, the physical, emotional and educational needs of the children and the likely effect that any change in circumstances may have on the children, before an appropriate order is made.