A more recent version of these What Happens If The Residential Parent Opposes Contact notes – written by Oxford students – is available here.
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What happens if the residential parent opposes contact?
Opposition can be castigated o Re O (Contact: Imposition of Conditions)
? Bingham MR
Neither parent should be encouraged or permitted to think that the more unco-operative they are, the more likely they are to get their own way o Where direct contact cannot for the time being be ordered, it is ordinarily highly desirable that there should be indirect contact
? so that the child grows up knowing of the love and interest of the absent parent with whom, in due course, direct contact should be established.
This calls for a measure of restraint, common sense and unselfishness on the part of both parents
? Swinton Thomas LJ
Under that provision, in my judgment, a court can impose conditions which require positive steps to be taken by one parent or the other in order to facilitate the contact But there may be good reasons for following the wishes of the non-resident partner o Re P (Contact Discretion)
Necessary to distinguish two kinds of cases o The first is where the opposition of the contact is justified:
? if the residential parent's fears are genuinely and rationally held than the court may refuse contact o The second is where the opposition is emotional and there is no rational basis for it
? In such a case, contact will be ordered unless doing so would cause the residential parent such distress that their child's welfare is harmed Focus should be perhaps on non-resident parent's contact o Re M (Minors) (Contact: Violent Parent )
? If F wants to have contact, then he must behave in more suitable way
? Herring: this move is good as it does not just castigate M's opposition, but focuses on whether F's conduct is what is causing the difficulties. o Me: movement to qualified right talk may further encourage an idea of parents having responsibilities. The problem of non-resident parent's fears o The fact that both parents hate each other is likely to render contact ineffective,
? As it requires the co-operation of the resident parent to ensure it happens
? And the child can become an unwitting pawn in the dispute, which impacts on their welfare
What about where the parent and/or child has suffered domestic violence?
The concerns o 1. Children who live in an atmosphere of domestic violence suffer psychological harm, even if they do not actually witness the abuse
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