Following a separation, a common question we are often asked is whether both parents have a legal right to equal contact with children.
The answer to that question is neither parent has an ‘equal right’ to see their children after separating. For each case, the welfare of the child is the main consideration when establishing the appropriate contact and to also ensure that a meaningful relationship can be maintained. Contact with both parents is essential to ensure that the child feels safe, secure and has a strong feeling of identity and belonging. Therefore, unless there is a really good reason why contact shouldn’t happen, for example if it is identified that contact could cause physical or emotional harm to the child, then appropriate contact will happen with both parents.
There has recently been a shift towards the idea of shared parenting but this does not necessarily mean that a child will spend equal time with each parent after separation. Although initially this may not appear to be fair, the law will aim to protect the interests of the child, not what is right for each parent.
There are no formal rules in place with regards to parental contact but in order to be successful for all involved, a pattern of contact is usually preferable so everyone knows where they stand. It is always better to avoid court having to make the decision about contact, as the judge is not aware of the dynamics of your relationship or knows your family; therefore, not always best placed to decide on when your child will see you or your former partner.
It is really important that you take some expert advice about your situation if you and your partner are separating.
If you would like some expert legal advice then please contact a member of our Family team on 0161 475 7676.