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When Should There Be Contact Between A Child And Parent Notes

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Is there a right to contact in the court's approach?
The Child's right to contact?
o Re W (A Minor) (Contact)
? Sir Stephen Brown

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It is quite clear that contact with a parent is a fundamental right to the child, save in wholly exceptional circumstances o This is a right belonging to the child rather than the parent Or just welfare? Seems to be an assumption, but not presumption in favour of contact o Re M (Contact: Welfare Test)
? CoA

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Contact is not a fundamental right of the child

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But there is a strong presumption in favour of contact, the test being o Whether the fundamental emotional need of every child to have an enduring relationship with both his parents (s.3(1)(b))
? Is outweighed by the depth of harm which in the light of his wishes and feelings (s.1(3)(a)),

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this child would be at risk of suffering (s.1(3)(e)) by virtue of the contact order o Re L (Contact: Domestic Violence)
? Thorpe LJ

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Judicial statements as to how applications for contact should be determined have spoken not of rights but of either presumption or principle o The significance of the distinction is reduced by what appears to be universal judicial recognition of the importance of contact to a child's development

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Judges can rely on their experience as practitioners and judges to choose which options best promote child welfare o But, particularly in the most difficult cases, the judge will have the advantage of expert evidence from a mental health professional.

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The assumption that contact benefits the child cannot be derived from legal precedent or principle o It must find its foundation in the theory and practice of the mental health professions.
? the proposition that children benefit from contact with the parent with whom they no longer live

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must be drawn from current opinion shared by the majority of mental health professionals
? Butler Sloss P

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As a matter of principle, domestic violence of itself cannot constitute a bar to contact - it is one factor in the difficult and delicate balancing exercise of discretion.

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o Nor should it lead to a presumption against contact which the parents has to get over. The fostering of a relationship between the child and the non-resident parent has always been and remains of great importance. o It has equally been intended to be for the benefit of the child rather than of the parent.

o Herring:
? Butler Sloss P seemed more willing to suggest per Re O that contact was a good in itself

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However, she probably was agreeing with Thorpe LJ that each case should be considered on its own merits, and only pointing out that in most cases it would be beneficial Should parents have a right to contact with the child?
Contact being in the best interests of the child all of the time is not supported by the evidence

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There are certainly reasons to believe that contact with a non-resident parent might be beneficial o 1. It avoids the child thinking the non-resident parent has rejected them o 2. It enables the parent and child to maintain a beneficial relationship o 3. Contact can dispel erroneous fantasies about the non-residential parent o 4. Contact helps the child develop or retain a sense of identity, especially cultural or religious o 5. Contact can help the child understand the parental separation. o 6. It can ensure the child retains contact with the wider family of the nonresidential parent o 7. It can help the child feel free to develop relationships with a step-parent w/o a sense of betrayal to birth parents.

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However, the evidence shows that the quality and nature of the contact is what counts, not the frequency or whether it occurs at all o Me: If our aim is the best outcomes for children, then giving a parental right or a child right to contact needs to be supported by evidence that it is beneficial for them o Gilmore
? After my extensive study of contact, research suggests that it is not contact per se which is important to children's adjustment

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But the nature and quality of that contact, and there is a range of factors which impact on that nature and quality o The evidence does not suggest we can, or should, generalise about the benefits of contact o It is true that children grow attached to parents...
? "Attachment theory"

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This is the idea that a child forms a psychological attachment with a parent or parent figure o This normally takes place within the first three months of the child's life, but it may occur even up to the age of 7 o Removing a child from someone to whom they have become attached can cause serious harm o BUT....

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