Iris Brighton

Iris Brighton

Services > Contact > What is Contact?

What is contact?

When a relationship breaks down parents need to reach an agreement on the arrangements for the children. They need to decide which parent the child will mainly live with (known as the resident parent) and how often the other parent (the non-resident parent) will see the child. The time the non-resident parent spends with the child is known as 'contact'.

Contact between a parent and child can be 'direct', in other words face-to-face contact, or it may be 'indirect', such as telephone conversations, e-mails and letters. There could be 'supervised' contact, where another person is always present, or 'staying' contact, where the child will stay overnight with the non-resident parent. The law encourages parents who are separated or divorced to maintain contact with their child. Contact should only be restricted where this is necessary to protect the interests of the child. The right to contact is a right of the child.

Usually, parents are able to agree on contact arrangements. If this is not possible they may seek help or professional advice, or as a last resort seek a court order.

It is not just parents who can ask for contact with a child. Grandparents, aunts and uncles, brothers and sisters, and anyone who has had a close relationship with a child may ask a parent for contact with the child. If contact is refused, it is possible that the person wanting contact will apply to the courts for a contact order, but this should be a last resort.

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