What is a contact order?
What is a Contact Order? A child Contact Order – otherwise known as a Child Arrangements Order – allows the child in question to have contact with a person other than the parent or guardian they live with. The court will assess the suitability of the child having contact with the third party, and if they agree that a continued relationship is beneficial for the child, they will grant a Contact Order. This will enforce the person with whom the child resides to allow regular contact with the other person.
This type of Contact Order is often used to give children the right to have contact with both their parents following a divorce or separation, and the amount of contact the child had with each parent prior to the split will be taken into account. For example, if a father has been heavily involved in the child’s life up until the separation, he has a higher chance of being granted a Contact Order. If he hasn’t had any involvement in the child’s upbringing, the Contact Order may not be granted as easily.
The child must be aged under 18 for a child Contact Order to made, and the Contact Order will apply until the child’s 16th birthday.
Who can make a child Contact Order application?
The following people can make an application for a Contact Order:
- Parent or guardian.
- A step-parent.
- A person who has lived with the child for at least three years.
- A person with a child residence order.
- If the child is in the care of a local HSC Trust, any person with the consent of that HSC Trust.
- Any person with the consent of all the people with parental responsibility towards the child.
What is the difference between direct and indirect contact?
Direct contact is anything involving face-to-face meetings with the child, and these can be supervised by social services if the court deems this necessary. Indirect contact is any other type of contact, including letters, emails and phone calls. Indirect contact is usually put in place if the parent lives far away, or is in prison, and can move on to direct contact over time.
Can grandparents apply for a Contact Order?
Unfortunately, only people from the above list can apply for a Contact Order. However, the courts do appreciate the invaluable benefits that grandparents add to a child’s life, so it’s rare that the court would refuse access for grandparents, unless there was evidence of abuse or violence.
If you’re thinking about applying for a Contact Order, we recommend speaking with an experienced child contact solicitor. Our dedicated team of solicitors are experts in this field, and are on hand to offer professional advice on your next steps. Contact us today for free, confidential advice on what to do next.