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After divorce how often can a father see his child?

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When you are facing the prospect of a separation or divorce one of the first things on your mind is how often you’ll be able to see your child after your divorce and your rights as a father. In this blog we look at the topic of custody and contact and answer the question how often a father can see his child after separation or divorce.

Online London based children and family law solicitors

At London based OTS Solicitors the children and family law team  can answer all your children law queries, and if necessary, provide legal representation in children court proceedings. Call us on 0203 959 9123 or complete our online enquiry form to set up a video conference, skype or telephone appointment with one of our specialist children lawyers to get the help and legal advice you need on child contact and custody.

How often can a father see his child after separation or divorce?

Separated or divorced fathers don’t lose their rights (known as parental responsibility) when they separate or divorce. There are no set rules on how frequently a father can see his child and the arrangements can vary between:

  • Custody of the child with the mother having contact with the child
  • Equal parenting with the child spending about half their time with each parent
  • Shared parenting with the child spending time with each parent though not necessarily half their time
  • Contact – essentially the same as shared parenting
  • Indirect contact – contact is limited to postal contact or non-direct contact
  • No contact.

Children law solicitors say it is best to take legal advice at the time of your separation or divorce to ensure that you are able to see your child as frequently as meets your child’s needs and interests.

How do you sort out child contact after a separation or divorce?

Many parents assume that if they split up the court automatically has to make child custody and contact orders as part of the divorce proceedings. That isn’t the case as the Children Act 1989 says that the court should not make children orders unless there is a need to do so , for example, because parents can't agree on who should be the main carer or if there should be equal parenting or the specifics of contact. If you are not able to agree child care arrangements direct with your child’s mother you can use:

If your ex makes proposals for child contact then it is best to take legal advice on the suggestions before either agreeing to them or making an application to court for a child arrangements order for a judge to order how often you should see your child. That is because your ex-partner’s contact proposals may not be reasonable and it would therefore not be in your best interests to accept them. Alternatively, their proposals may actually be more generous or similar to what a family law judge would be likely to order so you would potentially be spending money and time on court proceedings for a child arrangements order that may not mean you get to spend any more time with your child.

What affects whether a father can spend an equal amount of time with their child after a separation or divorce?

Most fathers want to equally share the care of their child after a separation or divorce. If you can't agree to equal parenting and one parent makes an application to court for a child arrangements order for a judge to decide on the custody and contact arrangements then the judge will consider a range of factors and make a decision based on what is thought to be in your child’s best interests.

One factor that will affect the child care arrangements is your child’s wishes, depending on their age. Whilst some children love spending equal time with both parents and don’t mind going to school from two homes, other children prefer to have one home base during the week from where they go to school, save for midweek contact visits.

Other factors that can influence whether equal or shared parenting will work for you and your child are:

  • Your work hours and whether if you had shared care your child would need to be in school clubs or at home on their own. That may not be an influencing factor if the child’s mother also works full time because even if the child spent more time with her they would be cared for by a third party
  • The distance between your home and the other parent’s home and the child’s nursery or school as the commute needs to be manageable for your child to be able to cope with.

What are the alternatives to equal parenting?

Every family has their own views on what contact arrangements work best for their child but children lawyers recommend that parents focus on the quality of the contact, rather than the time. That can mean that if due to distances between homes and school a mid week overnight contact visit means over a two hour journey to school and an early start then maybe a mid-week meeting that doesn’t involve an overnight visit is better for your child.

Most parents accept that their child needs to spend quality time with the other parent. If the child is of school age that means weekend and holiday time as well as whatever other contact is agreed. Parents can either split weekend time each week or do alternative weekends with some midweek contact so the child doesn’t go too long without seeing both parents. How the contact will work and how much contact is reasonable will very much depend on your child , the distance between your home and school , your work commitments and your child’s commitments (whether that is ballet class or playing for the local football team).

Children solicitors say that all the research indicates that children cope well with separation or divorce and however frequent or infrequent the contact arrangements are with a parent provided that their parents aren’t warring over contact arrangements and involving them in the dispute. That’s why it is so important to try and get the contact arrangements right so they work for the whole family and work around any location, work or social commitments with flexibility to accommodate changes in availability.

Online London based children and family law solicitors

If you need help with seeing your children or with sorting out child contact after your separation or divorce  then the children and family law team at OTS Solicitors are here to advise you on how best to reach a resolution over child contact and to answer with your children law questions. Call us on 0203 959 9123 or complete our online enquiry formso we can set up a skype, video conference or telephone appointment for you with one of our friendly and approachable children law solicitors.

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