When a relationship breaks down, parents will need to reach an agreement on the arrangements for seeing their children. This includes which parent the child will live with, and how often the other parent will see the child. The time that the child spends with the parent they do not live with is known as ‘contact’.
This article provides information on contact arrangements and how to get support and advice if there are issues.
Contact between a parent and child can be ‘direct’ or face-to-face contact, or ‘indirect’, such as telephone conversations or gifts. Contact can also be supervised by a named person or in a ‘contact centre’: a safe environment where children of separated families can spend time with their parents.
You can choose how to make arrangements for looking after your children if you separate from your partner. You and your ex-partner can usually avoid going to court hearings if you agree on:
- Where the children will live
- How much time they will spend with each parent
- How you will financially support your children
Getting information and advice
GOV.UK has information about making child arrangements if you divorce or separate from your partner, including what to do if you are not able to come to an agreement. This includes applying for a court order, or enforcing an existing order that is not being complied with.
Citizen’s Advice website also has information on making contact arrangements for your children, including agreeing where children will live, and how you will keep in touch with them and your former partner.
The separation or divorce of parents can be difficult for all those involved, including children. The NSPCC website has information to help you find out your rights around child contact, and get advice for supporting children.
The Child Law Advice line provides free legal advice via telephone 0300 330 5480. You can visit the Child Law Advice line website for more information.
If you have not seen your children for a long time, the Family Lives website contains advice for renewing contact. Their website also contains lots of other advice about shared parenting, such as advice if you and your previous partner have different routines or parenting styles.
Further advice and support is available from Gingerbread; a national charity supporting single parent families to live secure, happy and fulfilling lives. They have an article about contact issues, and you can find out more by visiting their website.
If you think you may need additional support, or you need to speak to someone about an issue or concern you are having with your child or family you can contact the Access and Response Team (ART). The ART team handle calls from the public, and will gather information about any concerns before assessing each case and determining the next appropriate steps.
You can contact the ART team on the following numbers:
If you are concerned about the safety of a child, call the following numbers:
- 01454 866000 ‐ Monday to Thursday 9am ‐ 5pm
- 01454 866000 ‐ Friday 9am ‐ 4.30pm
- 01454 615165 ‐ Out of hours and at weekends
In an emergency always ring 999.