Ex Partner fails to attend arranged contact with children

20 November 2012

Worthingtons Solicitors provide advice on what options are available when an ex-Partner repeatedly fails to show up for arranged contact visits with children.

There are many legal issues and applications you may make to the court in light of this unfortunate situation. It is important to note that in situations such as this, the children’s welfare will be the court’s paramount consideration and will take priority over everything and everybody else.

In this situation, there are a number of provisions under the Children (NI) Order 1995 which may be of assistance to you. Under Article 8 of this Order, there are two things which should be considered: a Contact Order and a Residence Order.

You may wish to consider applying for a defined Contact Order. To date you have been very courteous in attempting to facilitate contact, and it is unfortunate that your ex-partner is not engaging in this process and I’m sure it is upsetting for the children to go through this.

Applying for a Contact Order would allow for specific arrangements to be put in place as to times and duration of your ex-partner’s contact with the children. You may not be in favour of your ex-partner having fixed contact with the children, however the courts will uphold that the interests of the father and mother in these cases are irrelevant and it is almost always in the child’s best interest to have contact with the non-resident parent.

It was held in the case of CHW v CMJ [2008] NIFam 9 that exclusion of a birth parent from the life of a child is denial of a child’s right to understand aspects of the past which can be very relevant to the present or future.

You may also wish to apply for a Residence Order. This would involve setting down arrangements as to who the children are to live with, and so providing them with more security, stability and consistency in their lives.

Clare Curran is a Partner with Worthingtons Solicitors and head of the Family Law team.  If you would like further advice on these matters, contact Worthingtons, where we would be glad to offer our assistance and discuss any concerns with you.

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