What are the first steps to take if my ex is preventing me from seeing my children?
In any situation involving children, it is always best to try and sort the matter out privately. The first thing to do is write a letter to your ex-partner, detailing the date contact ceased or was denied and stating that unless you can see your children, you will seek legal advice.
Our family law Solicitors in London, led by Rakhi Singal, can draft this letter for you. We can apply for an Interim Contact Order If the letter elicits no response or your ex-partner still refuses to allow contact.
What is an Interim Contact Order?
The Court can make an Interim Contact Order requiring your ex-partner to allow you to see your children while you are waiting to go to Court to have a long-term contact arrangement decided.
Interim Contact Orders may restrict your contact to certain times and prevent any overnight stays. When granting Interim Contact Orders, the judge must err on the side of caution as a full hearing has not taken place.
Rakhi and her team will present a strong case when applying for an Interim Contact Order in order to get you the most time with your children prior to the hearing date.
What happens at a hearing for a Contact Order?
At the hearing (or just prior to it), you and your ex-partner will normally be invited to attend a short meeting with a Children and Families Court Advisory Service officer (also known as a CAFCASS Officer). Experienced in dealing with disputes involving children, a CAFCASS Officer will listen to you and your ex-partner and see if there is any scope for agreement.
If no agreement can be reached at the first hearing, the judge will usually ask the CAFCASS officer to prepare a report. This can take several months. In the meantime, Rakhi and her team will organise for the Interim Contact Order to be extended.
In preparing the report, the CAFCASS Officer will talk to people close to your children, for example, you and your ex-partner, the school, and other family members. You will be given a final copy of the report before the second hearing.
At the second hearing, the judge will review the CAFCASS Report and make recommendations to you and your ex-spouse regarding contact. The judge will consider factors such as the children’s wishes, any danger to the children’s welfare, and how capable you and your ex-partner are at meeting the needs of your children.
A final hearing will only take place if one parent cannot agree on the recommendations set out by the judge.
Our family lawyers in London will be by your side throughout the entire length of the proceedings, advising and representing you. We understand how stressful contact proceedings are and will provide support and continuous communication.