Can one parent stop another from seeing their child?

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Spending time with your child is extremely important for their development and your relationship with them. But, can one parent stop another from seeing their child? One parent cannot legally stop the other parent from seeing their child, unless there is a court order in place that prohibits contact. The law in England and Wales states that both parents have a legal rights and responsibility to maintain personal relations and direct contact with their child, unless it is not in the child’s best interests.

If one parent is withholding contact between the child and the other parent, the parent who is being denied contact can apply for a Child Arrangements Order (CAO) or a Specific Issue Order to establish and enforce contact arrangements. The court will consider the child’s welfare when making a decision on contact arrangements, and will take into account a number of factors such as the child’s wishes and feelings, the child’s relationship with each parent, and the child’s physical and emotional needs.

It’s worth noting that in cases of domestic abuse, the court will take the safety and welfare of the child and the victim into consideration, and may make an order that prohibits contact between the abuser and the child.

If the other parent is making the child unavailable without a reasonable cause, it is important to seek legal advice, and to apply to court for a CAO or a Specific Issue Order. The court will assess the case and will decide on the best arrangement for the child.

Anyone with parental responsibility has a right to see their child unless a Court has ordered otherwise. This also applies to step parents who have obtained parental responsibility through a Parental Responsibility Agreement.

Obtaining a court order to prohibit a parent’s contact with a child

A court can make an order to prohibit a parent’s contact with their child in certain circumstances. Such an order is called a Prohibited Steps Order (PSO) or a Child Arrangements Order (CAO) with a no contact provision.

A Prohibited Steps Order is made under the Children Act 1989 and is used to prevent someone from taking a specific action that would be harmful to a child’s welfare.

A PSO can be applied for by anyone with parental responsibility (PR) for the child, or by anyone who has the consent of all those with parental responsibility. It can also be applied for by the child themselves if they are of sufficient age and understanding.

Examples of actions that may be prohibited by a PSO include:

  • Taking the child out of the country without the consent of the other parent or guardians
  • Changing the child’s surname
  • Preventing the child from seeing a particular person

A CAO is a court order that determines where a child should live and when they should spend time with their parents or other family members. It can also include provision for no contact or supervised contact between the parent and the child.

A court will only make an order to prohibit a parent’s contact with their child if it is in the best interest of the child. The court will take into account a number of factors such as the child’s wishes and feelings, the child’s relationship with each parent, and the child’s physical and emotional needs.

In cases of domestic abuse, the court will take the safety and welfare of the child and the victim into consideration, and may make an order that prohibits contact between the abuser involved in the child’s life and the child. In such cases, the court will also consider other measures to stop a risk of harm to the child, such as non-molestation order or occupation order.

It’s worth noting that a PSO or a CAO with a no contact provision is a serious order that can have significant consequences for the parent who is prohibited from having contact with their child. It is important to seek legal advice before applying for such an order, and to be aware of the possibility of appeals or variation of the order.

What to do if you have been stopped by one parent from seeing your child

If you have been stopped from seeing your child in the UK, it is important to take the following steps:

  1. Seek legal advice: Consult a solicitor who specialises in family law to understand your rights and options. They can advise you on the legal process and help you prepare your case.
  2. Mediation: Consider attending mediation to try to reach an agreement with the other parent on contact arrangements. Mediation can be a quicker and less expensive option than going to court.
  3. Apply for a Child Arrangements Order (CAO): If you are unable to reach an agreement through mediation, you can apply to the Court for a Child Arrangements Order. This is a court order that determines where a child should live and when they should spend time with their parents or other family members.
  4. Provide evidence: Gather evidence to support your application, such as text messages, emails, or witness statements from people who can attest to your relationship with your child and the other parent’s behaviour.
  5. Attend the court hearing: Attend the court hearing and present your evidence and arguments. The court will consider the best interests of the child when making a decision on contact arrangements.
  6. Follow the court order: If the court makes a Contact Order, it is important to follow the terms of the order. If the other parent is not following the order, you can ask the court to enforce it.

It’s worth noting that it’s important to act quickly and to seek legal advice as soon as possible, as the court will consider the child’s best interest. And if the child’s welfare is at risk, the court will act accordingly to protect the child.

How can Expert Family Law Assist?

We have heard the question “can one parent stop another from seeing their child?” so many times, which is why we are here to help.

We understand that disputes involving children and their care can be incredibly complex and sensitive. The solicitors on our panel can provide you with the best advice and assistance on resolving child arrangement disputes and obtaining a Specific Issue Order from the Court if the dispute cannot be resolved between the parents or through the process of mediation.

As well as assisting with child arrangements, our panel of family law solicitors can also advise and assist on the process of divorce and the division of assets following the breakdown of a marriage or civil partnership (ancillary relief). We can also help if one parent refuses to pay child support.

We ensure that the family law solicitors on our panel have the skills and experience required to assist on your legal case. We can assure you that your case will be dealt with in a compassionate and understanding manner.

Get in touch today using the form at the top of the page to find out if a child arrangement solicitor from our panel could help on your case.

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