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The Different Types of Contact Orders

By: Abigail Taylor - Updated: 20 Nov 2018 | comments*Discuss
 

What is a contact order...? Well, this is an order that determines which family members a child should have regular meetings with. That order will usually specify three things:

  • Who the child should have contact with
  • How frequently the child should have contact with them (and often exactly when including dates and times)
  • What type of contact they should have

Types of contact

Direct contact
Most contact will involve the child meeting face to face with the relevant family member. This may be in the form of a supervised meeting at a set location, or may involve the child staying overnight with the family member.

Indirect contact
Contact could also be in the form of letters, emails, video conferencing or telephone. This is often appropriate if the non-resident parent is violent or exhibits risky behaviour such as heavy drug use. Skype (a free internet video conferencing facility) is also commonly used to facilitate contact with a non-resident parent who lives a long way away.

Frequently asked questions

Q: My former partner currently has contact with our children on Friday evening and all day Saturday. He currently brings them home late Friday night and picks them up early Saturday morning. He has now suggested that he would like them to stay at his house overnight on Friday. Do I have to agree to this?

A: Unless there is a court order that says that your former partner is entitled to overnight contact then no, you are not under any obligation to agree to an overnight stay. It is however advisable to consider what is in the best interests of your children. If they are happy to stay overnight and your hesitance is not caused by any concerns about their safety, you may wish to agree an overnight stay. It is also worth bearing in mind that if this request is reasonable, a Court may order it if they are asked to consider the matter.

Q: What can I do if I am concerned about my former wife's new partner seeing my children? I am concerned that he has a history of violence.

A: The first thing to do in this situation is to speak to your former partner and explain your concerns. It may be that they agree that the children will not see their new partner or will not be left alone with them. If you still have concerns, you can apply to the Courts for a "no contact" order or a Prohibited Steps Order to prevent your children having contact with your wife's new partner.

Q: When I split up with my partner there were domestic violence issues. I am concerned that I do not want him to have contact with our children. Will the Court give him contact?

A: The Court is usually reluctant to not give any contact at all to a parent, even if they have a violent past. Often any such concerns can be overcome by either having supervised contact, or indirect contact (as detailed above). It is often therefore better to argue in Court that a indirect or supervised contact would be more appropriate, than try to put forward an argument that there should be no contact at all.

Q: The Court has ordered that my ex-partner should have supervised contact with our child. However I feel very anxious about seeing him during contact sessions as our relationship was very turbulent. What can I do?

A: Often parents do not want to see their former partner during contact, and you are under no obligation to do so. Can you ask a family member or trusted friend to supervise the contact? Alternatively there are Family Contact Centres who will supervise contact sessions for you. You can find a Contact Centre on the National Association of Contact Centres website.

Q: I share custody of our children. My ex-wife currently picks up and drops off the children at my house. However she has real issues with my new wife which regularly results in heated arguments. Is there anything I can do to stop her coming to the house?

A: It is entirely up to you and your ex-wife where you "hand over" the children. If you do not want her to come to your house, can you pick up the children from her house (without your new wife) or meet at a neutral location such as a cinema / restaurant car park to "transfer" the children? If this doesn't work, many Contact Centres will also support the "transfer" of children between parents so that they can be dropped off at the Centre and you can leave before your ex-wife arrives. You can find your local Contact Centre using the link above.

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[Add a Comment]
My ex partner and I never married and separated when I was pregnant.He has contact with my daughter through a court order.He would like to have overnights with my daughter. My daughter has been diagnosed as autistic, and I feel that she would not be able to cope with the change as she has never lived with her dad.He has said if I don't agree to overnights he will take me to court.He is on legal aid, where I am not.Can any one offer any advice on this please?Thanks
nicole - 20-Nov-18 @ 2:29 PM
Hi. I have a contact order placed on me by the court for my best mate and 17 month old son. I am desperate to see him and I am wondering if I can do anything to sort out some form of contact as our next hearing will not be for another 4 weeks and I haven’t seen him for 4 weeks already. All I want is to play with him and hear him laugh etc. The reason I can’t see him is because my ex told the court I have mental health issues - she marched me to the doctors 6 months before we split and she told the doctor a load of lies because she felt I had depression. The relationship was toxic and I was controlled for the whole of it. Anyway, I also have a daughter due in December and if this continues and Cafcas decide to continue with an investigation I won’t even get to be there when she is born. I need solid advice on what to do and how I can see my son and get access to my daughter when she is born. Thanks in advance
Shaunp2112 - 24-Aug-18 @ 11:11 PM
Johnny - Your Question:
Hi, I was wondering I'd anyone could help me. My girlfriend is cureentry in need of help. Last Christmas she was suffering from bipolar disorder. She still is but has it under control now. During one of her low points she tried to take her life. Her mother then began to look after her two children. Her two children have two different fathers. One father was happy for his child to stay with my girlfriends mum. The other was not. So he took custody and got social sevices involved. After a few months sovial services advised that it was safe for the child to return to the mother. Insread of that though he moved away. he has 4 children with his new wife and now his daughter that he had with my girlfriend. He does not even let her speak to her let alone see her. I want to know how to go about filing for custody with out a solicitor or what we can do? If there's no order existing can she just keep her daughter when she next sees her? Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you

Our Response:
This would really be a matter for the courts to decide (if your girlfriend's ex will not consider mediation). While your girlfriend can keep her child without the other parent's consent (if there is no court/residency order in place to say the child can live with her father) it is never a good idea. As in all cases, the court’s main concern is the welfare of the child in question. The court will always put the child’s best interests first and this main issue will determine the outcome of any application for an order.
ChildSupportLaws - 12-Dec-17 @ 11:54 AM
Hi, I was wondering I'd anyone could help me. My girlfriend is cureentry in need of help. Last Christmas she was suffering from bipolar disorder.She still is but has it under control now. During one of her low points she tried to take her life. Her mother then began to look after her two children . Her two children have two different fathers. One father was happy for his child to stay with my girlfriends mum. The other was not. So he took custody and got social sevices involved. After a few months sovial services advised that it was safe for the child to return to the mother.Insread of that though he moved away.. he has 4 children with his new wife and now his daughter that he had with my girlfriend. He does not even let her speak to her let alone see her. I want to know how to go about filing for custody with out a solicitor or what we can do? If there's no order existing can she just keep her daughter when she next sees her? Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you
Johnny - 11-Dec-17 @ 5:21 PM
@Zee86 - if he has parental repsonsibilty you'd still have to ask him for permission to move abroad and still apply to court if he says no. This is a separate issue and needs to be dealt with separately. I doubt you'd get permission frm the courts to be able to move until after the court case.
Hann - 9-Nov-17 @ 12:18 PM
Hi ...I’ve just come out of a violent 7 yr marriage...We have two children together and he has made the usual threats that he will make sure I have nothing including kids because I left him. To basically cut a very long story short, we were separated but living together as he just wouldn’t leave. i was reaching breaking point mentally and had to leave him and the home from May to September ....to break free....I left my children with him but spent almost every day with them throughout, just stayed away during nights. When I came back to settle back in September he would not leave (home is in my name) so in October I had no other choice but to change the locks. After police involvement to remove him...he was arrested and questioned but released under investigation. Throughout these past weeks social services have been involved as my children have started to reveal some disturbing truths about what he’s put them through while I’d been away. Now the police want to charge him for his crimes against me and the children ....with photographic evidence of his violence and the statements given by the kids... I’m guessing from previous threats that I will have a pretty gruelling time in court with him over the foreseeable future.... is there a chance he will be able to stop me moving abroad with my kids for a fresh start with my new partner? And will it be likely due to his disturbing and violent history with the kids the the court will give me sole custody, if so will I have the right to take my children where I please and be truly free from this monster??
Zee86 - 8-Nov-17 @ 5:38 PM
Kiddies should be pr - Your Question:
The child access order states the 13 & 11 year old must go from 10am Xmas eve to 5 pm Xmas day but the children have refused to go. Must I force them to go? Can I get in trouble if they refuse to go?

Our Response:
Yes, you will be in breach of the contact order/in contempt of court, which comes with a warning attached.
ChildSupportLaws - 7-Nov-17 @ 3:23 PM
The child access order states the 13 & 11 year old must go from 10am Xmas eve to 5 pm Xmas day but the children have refused to go. Must I force them to go? Can I get in trouble if they refuse to go?
Kiddies should be pr - 7-Nov-17 @ 3:41 AM
I have another contract order against myself from my ex partner due to domestic violence for two weeks until back in court, how can I arrange contact with my son with breaching the order? Thanks.
Brycran17 - 6-Nov-17 @ 3:22 PM
Hi I am a single mother of 6 months old boy. His father left me 2 weeks before our son was born. When our son was 3 months he told me he doesn't remember us being so long together as he was using drugs (cocaine and weed).He keep changing his mind he want us to be friends or want to go to court. He hasn't contact or pay for 3 months.Now he told me he doesn't like meand don't want to see me anymore. He want to see his son but without me. He quite often was scaring me he will suisad if I will give birth to our baby. He wanted abortion I didn't argee. But that was before our son was born. He didn't have any contact with baby for 3 months. He didn't want to. Now he texted me he want to take baby away for whole day.I don't want to give him baby as I am scared what he will do. He is depressed as well but doesn't have any treatment as he decided he doesn't need it. What can I do to make sure my baby is safe?
Kate - 17-Oct-17 @ 10:53 PM
Pebbles - Your Question:
Would appreciate advice for myself and daughter on how to proceed in applying for a child contact order for reasons of ensuring our 3week old grandaughter's safety. Our daughter seperared from her partner of 8yrs before the baby was born due to emotional abuse from her ex and his teenage daughter from a previous relationshipWe were upset and shocked to learn of her ex's behaviour and the emotional abuse she endured from him and his teenage daughter of 15 His teenage daughter has always lived with her mum and has behaviour problems which impact on other family members and her school life and peers she has a history of bullying younger children and our daughter does not want her to have any contact what so ever with her baby daughter so as to ensure her safety. At the moment it is not a problem but we know that given time her ex will start to push for access for his daughter to see the baby as he has already said he wants her to get to know the baby. He also has a son of 11 whom our daughter is happy for him to come and visit. He ex has said once the baby is older he will spend time with her and his family. Please can you advise what our daughter needs to do in denying the teenager access. We ourselves have witnessed the girl's worrying behaviour for which she has a diagnosis of mild autism but we feel as do other family members on his side much of her behaviour is due to poor parenting skills by both parents throughout her young life. But we now have a duty to keep the baby safe what legally can we do

Our Response:
If this issue can not be resolved mutually by the parents, and your daughter's ex refuses to consider mediation, then your daughter can apply for a Specific Issue Order. Much like the name suggests, it is an order sought from the family court to determine a particular matter in connection with the exercise of Parental Responsibility. These orders can cover a wide range of issues that cannot be agreed on, such as; preventing someone from having contact with your child. As in all cases, the court’s main concern is the welfare of the child in question. The court will always put the child’s best interests first and this main issue will determine the outcome of any application for an order.
ChildSupportLaws - 3-Aug-17 @ 4:05 PM
Would appreciate advice for myself and daughter on how to proceed in applying for a child contact order for reasons of ensuring our 3week old grandaughter's safety. Our daughter seperared from her partner of 8yrs before the baby was born due to emotional abuse from her ex and his teenage daughter from a previous relationship We were upset and shocked to learn of her ex's behaviour and the emotional abuse she endured from him and his teenage daughter of 15His teenage daughter has always lived with her mum and has behaviour problems which impact on other family members and her school life and peers she has a history of bullying younger children and our daughter does not want her to haveany contact what so ever with her baby daughter so as to ensure her safety. At the moment it is not a problem but we know that given time her ex will start to push for access for his daughter to see the baby as he has already said he wants her to get to know the baby. He also has a son of 11 whom our daughter is happy for him to come and visit. He ex has said once the baby is older he will spend time with her and his family. Please can you advise what our daughter needs to do in denying the teenager access. We ourselves have witnessed the girl's worrying behaviour for which she has a diagnosis of mild autism but we feel as do other family members on his side much of her behaviour is due to poor parenting skills by both parents throughout her young life. But we now have a duty to keep the baby safe what legally can we do
Pebbles - 3-Aug-17 @ 8:25 AM
Can anyone help please, I have my son who is 6 with my ex husband, we were married when he was born and his name is on his birth certificate. We are divorced and I have a child arrangements order stating no direct contact as the court believes my son would be in danger of significant harm. I am re-marrying, he is in the army and being posted to Asia for 2 years, do I need my ex husbands permission to take my son? Thank you
Tiny - 22-Apr-17 @ 9:17 PM
Claire - Your Question:
I am currently sharing access with my ex husband. He has my son 4 nights one week so he can have a long weekend with him. The following week he has our son 2 nights. He is now wanting him an extra night in the second week. The only reason I have a problem with this is because my ex husband works from 5am - 2:30. Therefor leaves our son with his partner. I myself would not be at work on this day so I can take care of him myself. He is now saying he is going to take me to court for 50/50 access. Is there anything I can do about this as I don't see the need in somone else watching our son if he can be with his mam. Thanks

Our Response:
Your ex can't take you to court unless mediation has been suggested (and refused) or attempted and negotiations have broken down. Mediation is seen as a legal requirement before a court application can be submitted. The primary reason is that mediation is an opportunity to come to a mutually agreed decision, one that both parents can take ownership of and want to ensure works. Mediation takes place in front of a neutral third party. The mediator has no pre-conceptions and will not force you to make an agreement. They will assist the two parties in taking turns in the conversation, and helping you reach a decision that you are ready to agree with. Mediators do not pass judgment or offer guidance; they are there, in effect, to facilitate conversation between the two sides. If you take the matter through mediation, then you can negotiate the reasons why you do not wish for your ex to have your son and try to resolve these issues.
ChildSupportLaws - 19-Apr-17 @ 11:08 AM
I am currently sharing access with my ex husband.He has my son 4 nights one week so he can have a long weekend with him. The following week he has our son 2 nights. He is now wanting him an extra night in the second week. The only reason I have a problem with this is because my ex husband works from 5am - 2:30. Therefor leaves our son with his partner.I myself would not be at work on this day so I can take care of him myself.He is now saying he is going to take me to court for 50/50 access.Is there anything I can do about this as I don't see the need in somone else watching our son if he can be with his mam. Thanks
Claire - 18-Apr-17 @ 5:16 PM
Marie - Your Question:
My ex partner has Breached my contact fo 16 weeks so I put in for an enforcement order with the court , been going to court since October last year on my hearing last month the judge has granted me over night stays and Unsupervised contact with my daughters in the future but my girls father keeps telling me it's not true I also have contact with my daughters twice a week for 2 hours on a Saturday and Wednesday's for an hour and all the time Ave been representing myself in court because I can't get legal aid anymore , But everytime I see my daughter's he's very verbally abusive to me and my son and it makes it very difficult to enjoy our contact with my little girls and it's also upsetting my little ones is there any help I cud get because of this situation be very happy for any legal advice thank you !!!

Our Response:
If you can afford to get a solicitor to write a letter to your ex outlining the terms of the court order and warning him against giving verbal abuse when you have contact with your children, this may do the trick. Unless your ex significantly breaches the court order again you would have no grounds to take the matter back to court.
ChildSupportLaws - 16-Feb-17 @ 12:37 PM
My ex partner has Breached my contact fo 16 weeks so I put in for an enforcement order with the court , been going to court since October last year on my hearing last month the judge has granted me over night stays and Unsupervised contact with my daughters in the future but my girls father keeps telling me it's not true I also have contact with my daughters twice a week for 2 hours on a Saturday and Wednesday'sfor an hour and all the time Ave been representing myself in court because I can't get legal aid anymore, But everytime I see my daughter's he's very verbally abusive to me and my son and it makes it very difficult to enjoy our contact with my little girls and it's also upsetting my little ones is there any help I cud get because of this situation be very happy for any legal advice thank you !!!
Marie - 9-Feb-17 @ 5:20 PM
Anne - Your Question:
My ex husband and I have a legal agreement that allows me video chat time with my children twice a week. I have remarried and live in the US while they live in England. Whenever I call, he refuses to allow me to communicate with my children. I do not have a job here in the US so I have very limited ability to fly back and forth and hire more attorneys.what can I do to resolve this? Shouldn't the court go after him for breaching the legal agreement?

Our Response:
If the original agreement was made in court, I'm afraid you would have to attempt to get the agreement enforced. If the agreement was not made through the courts, then you cannot have this enforced. Therefore, you would have to make a new application to the courts.
ChildSupportLaws - 9-Feb-17 @ 12:43 PM
shanny - Your Question:
My sons father hasnt seen him in a year and a half which was his choice. He was discharged from the army for drugs & stealing. He was very rough with my son when he did see him. He disappeared with him before and wouldnt tell me where he was at my son was 1 and a half at the time. Hes only wanting to see him now because my partner is more like a father to my son. If it goes to court what will the chances be that he'll get supervised contact? I dont want him near my son he cant be trusted

Our Response:
The court is open to both parents having a relationship with their child(ren) and will do what it can to allow a parent/child relationship to develop. It is likely supervised contact will be awarded initially (unless there is a good reason why it shouldn't). However, this is impossible to predict as much depends upon what the Cafcass report reveals.
ChildSupportLaws - 9-Feb-17 @ 12:27 PM
My ex husband and I have a legal agreement that allows me video chat time with my children twice a week. I have remarried and live in the US while they live in England. Whenever I call, he refuses to allow me to communicate with my children. I do not have a job here in the US so I have very limited ability to fly back and forth and hire more attorneys...what can I do to resolve this? Shouldn't the court go after him for breaching the legal agreement?
Anne - 8-Feb-17 @ 8:05 PM
My sons father hasnt seen him in a year and a half which was his choice. He was discharged from the army for drugs & stealing. He was very rough with my son when he did see him. He disappeared with him before and wouldnt tell me where he was at my son was 1 and a half at the time. Hes only wanting to see him now because my partner is more like a father to my son. If it goes to court what will the chances be that he'll get supervised contact? I dont want him near my son he cant be trusted
shanny - 8-Feb-17 @ 6:27 PM
Little - Your Question:
My son is 3 years old & over the 3 years I have had a family based agreement in place with his father for child maintenance but is very low to what he should be paying. I have asked for more money but being "fobbed" off. Should I now contact CSA? My son dad has also now moved away which is a 2 hr drive each way. I have no idea where my son goes every other weekend. Why I don't want to stop my son seeing his dad I do want something that said my son "residential status" when with his father is at his father mum house aka Gran! This was where my son use to go & stay before his dad moved away & my son is very comfortable there & has his own toys etc! In his dad new house there is not that!?

Our Response:
Child maintenance and child access are separate issues. If you think your ex is not paying enough (you can see via CMS link here), then you have every right to claim. I'm not quite sure what you are asking with regards to your second question, but if you are unhappy with the arrangement and you can't agree between you, then you may wish to consider attending mediation.
ChildSupportLaws - 7-Feb-17 @ 12:39 PM
My son is 3 years old & over the 3 years I have had a family based agreement in place with his father for child maintenance but is very low to what he should be paying. I have asked for more money but being "fobbed" off. Should I now contact CSA? My son dad has also now moved away which is a 2 hr drive each way. I have no idea where my son goes every other weekend. Why I don't want to stop my son seeing his dad I do want something that said my son "residential status" when with his father is at his father mum house aka Gran! This was where my son use to go & stay before his dad moved away & my son is very comfortable there & has his own toys etc! In his dad new house there is not that!?
Little - 6-Feb-17 @ 9:34 PM
Tubbsy - Your Question:
My daughter is one year old this month but the mother has refused me any contact, I have missed everything so far and I don't know what to do to help with this. I am not on the birth certificate and have been constantly denied any parental rights. I have suggested supervised visits and the mother has agreed but then a few days later I got told I am not allowed to see my daughter. This is what always happens and it isn't getting any better, I need help and can not afford legal help because I am in college and currently unemployed. I can not afford to help pay for anything for my daughter and I constantly get told this is my fault and I have been isolated due to lies everyone is told by the mother and then I end up on the receiving side of hatred. She is doing all she can to bully me and remove me from my daughter's life yet still blames me for it all, please help me and tell me what I should try to do.

Our Response:
I am sorry to hear this. You'll be glad to know, you do have options. However, it may be a long-haul, but if you do not have access currently, then you have nothing to lose. As you are not on the birth certificate, you currently have no rights. But taking the matter to court for Parental Responsibility, and a contact order C100 will help. Child maintenance payments and access are not related, so your ex cannot hold you to ransom for money in order to see your child and a court will throw this out. If you cannot afford legal fees, you can self-litigate and you can get a reduction in your court fees, please see links here and here. You may also wish to read our partner site; Separated Dads, link here which will give you all the advice you need to help you on your way. Good luck.
ChildSupportLaws - 15-Nov-16 @ 12:50 PM
My daughter is one year old this month but the mother has refused me any contact, I have missed everything so far and I don't know what to do to help with this. I am not on the birth certificate and have been constantly denied any parental rights. I have suggested supervised visits and the mother has agreed but then a few days later I got told I am not allowed to see my daughter. This is what always happens and it isn't getting any better, I need help and can not afford legal help because I am in college and currently unemployed. I can not afford to help pay for anything for my daughter and I constantly get told this is my fault and I have been isolated due to lies everyone is told by the mother and then I end up on the receiving side of hatred. She is doing all she can to bully me and remove me from my daughter's life yet still blames me for it all, please help me and tell me what I should try to do.
Tubbsy - 14-Nov-16 @ 8:55 PM
Char- Your Question:
My daughter is now 8months old and her dad walked out on us when she was 3months old, he's had no contact with her since he left ( 5months ). I no we both have parental responsibility, but I want it full on my own. I don't no how to go about this ?

Our Response:
It is very rare a court will revoke a non-resident parent's parental responsibility. The court would have to have a very good reason.
ChildSupportLaws - 24-Oct-16 @ 2:24 PM
My daughter is now 8months old and her dad walked out on us when she was 3months old, he's had no contact with her since he left ( 5months ). I no we both have parental responsibility, but I want it full on my own . I don't no how to go about this ?
Char - 22-Oct-16 @ 5:52 PM
I am currently pregnant with my first child, however since finding out I was pregnant my now ex partner was very mixed on what to do, telling me he was happy then suddenly wanted me to have an abortion. I have decided to keep the baby, however my ex partner has now moved 500 miles away to Scotland, but still wants to be able to see the baby and be able to take the baby up to Scotland when he see's her. I feel uncomfortable with this and just wanted some advice on where I stand? Will he automatically be able to have the baby over night?
Dana - 11-Jun-16 @ 12:26 PM
May25 - Your Question:
My partner has had problems seeing his daughter since she was born. She is nearly 4 and things have started to get better and he now seeing her twice a week. He isn't on the birth certificate but has parental responsibility. His ex has just messaged him saying she would like set days a Tuesday and a Saturday. He works shifts, 2 days 2 nights 4 off. This means some weeks he would not be able to see his daughter as he will be working on one of the days and sleeping on the other after coming off of nights. We both understand the need for routine but his ex's reasons are that it doesn't fit around her work. Does he have any rights? Or is it best to get a court order? Thanks!

Our Response:
I think in cases like this mediation may be the best way to get around an issue if neither parent can quite agree, but neither wish to fall out. This would give a more solid arrangement to any agreement reached, please see link: Mediation: What is it and is it For Me? here .
ChildSupportLaws - 27-May-16 @ 2:59 PM
My partner has had problems seeing his daughter since she was born. She is nearly 4 and things have started to get better and he now seeing her twice a week. He isn't on the birth certificate but has parental responsibility. His ex has just messaged him saying she would like set days a Tuesdayand a Saturday. He works shifts, 2 days 2 nights 4 off. This means some weeks he would not be able to see his daughter as he will be working on one of the days and sleeping on the other after coming off of nights. We both understand the need for routine but his ex's reasons are that it doesn't fit around her work. Does he have any rights? Or is it best to get a court order? Thanks!
May25 - 26-May-16 @ 9:25 PM
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