Preventing Access: A Father's Visitation to his Child
Our specialist in child law provides frequent advice and assistance on the matter of preventing a father from seeing their child.
According to English Law, there is a general presumption that both the mother and father should be involved in the child's life, as it is in the child's best interests. Therefore, unless allowing access to the child would harm their welfare, your partner cannot legally stop you from seeing your child. This also applies to mothers who are considering preventing the father from seeing their child.
However, a mother can prevent the father from seeing their child if there is a risk of the child being exposed to circumstances or behavior that may jeopardize their safety. The following concerns fall under this category:
- Engaging in criminal activities
- Committing domestic abuse
- Misusing drugs or alcohol
- Displaying any other inappropriate behavior that puts the child at risk
If any of the above apply, the courts will not hesitate to restrict the father's access to the child. This restriction will remain in place until the issues are resolved or there are significant changes in circumstances.
In the absence of these special circumstances, the mother cannot prevent the child from having contact with their father, as the law encourages a relationship between both parents. Alongside the parents' right to see their child, the child also has the right to see both parents and receive their love and care.
Some mothers may wonder if they can prevent their child from seeing their father. It is crucial to note that contact should only be refused if there is a valid reason to do so, particularly in cases where there is a risk of violence or safety issues. Simply delaying or missing scheduled contact sessions with the child is not a good enough reason to stop the father from seeing their child.
Family lawyers are often asked whether a child's contact with their father can be stopped if the father refuses to pay child support. Failure to pay child maintenance does not justify preventing a father from seeing his children. Child support, also known as child maintenance, is a separate issue from child contact. Withholding contact with the child cannot be used as leverage for issues related to child support payments. It is the child's legal right to have contact with both parents, which is beneficial for their well-being, including contact with the father.
When the court considers the welfare of the child, it will make a decision regarding the father's access to the child. If there is clear evidence of potential harm or risk to the child, the court may order a complete halt to the father's contact with their children.
The court has various options available to them, including determining the duration and timing of the contact sessions. This could involve granting or denying overnight contact and specifying weekdays, weekends, school holidays, special occasions, and festivals. They can also decide how the contact takes place, whether it is supervised or unsupervised, at a contact center, or at either parent's home. The type of contact can also be outlined, including physical contact or indirect contact through letters, emails, or phone calls.
While the law encourages an active relationship between both parents and the child, the court can intervene and restrict or terminate contact if it deems it necessary for the welfare and best interests of the child.
As mentioned before, it is the child's right to have access and contact with both parents. Additionally, if the father has parental responsibility, he also has a say in the child's upbringing and welfare. The father is entitled to see the child without any restrictions on how the contact sessions are conducted.
If the father's partner is abusive or violent, there are other steps that can be taken to limit the child's contact with them. Instead of preventing the father from seeing the child, an application can be made to the family court for a prohibited steps order. In this situation, you would need to convince the court that it is in your child's best interest not to have contact with the father's partner and how such contact can impact the child.
In the event that you successfully obtain a prohibited steps order, it will prohibit the father of the child from facilitating meetings between the children and his partner unless mandated by the court.
In cases of an abusive or violent new relationship, you won't be able to prevent a father from seeing his children unless the father exhibits abusive or violent behavior that poses a risk of harm or abuse to the children.
There may be situations where a child no longer desires contact with their father or refuses to visit him. In such instances, it is advisable for the mother to seek understanding regarding the child's reasons rather than blocking the father's access to the child. When resolving child-related matters, the courts prioritize the child's best interests and overall well-being. It is crucial to attentively listen to any concerns or issues raised by the child and engage in a discussion with the father.
Therefore, it is imperative to lend an ear and engage in a conversation with the father to address any concerns or issues raised.
If possible, the mother should converse with the father and share the children's concerns. The dialogue should aim to assist the father in comprehending the reasons behind the child's refusal of contact, so that the father can consider making necessary changes.
If, after addressing the initial concerns, the child still refuses to visit their father, an application can be made to the court to modify the existing visitation arrangement. Although the courts take the child's welfare and preferences into account, it must be demonstrated that the current contact with the father is detrimental. The child's viewpoint of refusing contact alone is insufficient as the courts recognize the importance of having both parents in the child's life for their best interests.
There may be additional factors to consider when a child no longer desires contact or declines to attend a visitation session with the father. Mothers should encourage the child's contact with the father to prevent any issues of parental alienation. While a child may express a lack of interest in contact, the father may assert that the mother is alienating the child, leading to further complications.
There may be situations where a child previously had regular contact with their father but suddenly becomes fearful or afraid to attend visitation. Consequently, the mother may contemplate preventing the child from seeing their father. In such cases, the mother should strive to ascertain the cause of the child's fear, and the father should also be consulted to address the issue. It is possible that the child may be going through a phase where they simply do not wish to attend visitation, or there may be a genuine problem that needs to be addressed.
A mother cannot prevent a father from seeing his child without a court order.
If the child is scared of the father due to potential abuse or harm, then the mother would need to engage in conversation with the child and gather evidence that may substantiate the child being at risk.
A frequently asked question is whether a mother can deny a father access to their child without involving the family court. The determining factor in deciding whether the mother can prevent the father from seeing the child is the father's Parental Responsibility. Parental Responsibility grants the father legal rights and responsibilities towards their child. If a father does not possess parental responsibility, the mother can indeed prevent the father from seeing the child.
If a father, who lacks parental responsibility, wishes to have contact with their child, they must first obtain a parental responsibility order from the courts. Once the father has been granted parental responsibility, they can then apply to the court for child contact.
If a father possesses parental responsibility for the child, the mother may still be able to prevent the father from seeing the child without involving the family court if both parties can mutually agree.
It is essential to note that if there is an existing child contact or arrangement order in place, it is legally binding. Preventing the father from seeing the child can be regarded as a failure to comply with a court order, potentially leading to a breach of the order and the mother being held in contempt of court.
Hence, if a mother desires to impede a father's access to their child without a valid justification, it can result in significant ramifications. In such a scenario, the father has the option to turn to the court for the enforcement of the existing order. This course of action could potentially lead to the court imposing an enforcement order against the mother, which may entail a prison sentence, a fine, or other potent measures available to the court.
Alternatively, if the current arrangements regarding the child are not functioning effectively, the matter can be referred back to the family court. Various circumstances within a family may change, such as the behaviors exhibited by one of the parents or the child's inclination to discontinue contact with their father. In such instances, it is possible to file an application for a variation order in the family court.
There are several common reasons for seeking a variation order, including instances where parents struggle to comply with the terms of the existing order, when a child expresses their reluctance to have contact with a parent, or when one parent decides to relocate. After the submission of such an application, the court will evaluate the changes in circumstances and, if appropriate, make amendments to the existing arrangements. As with the initial proceedings, the court will always prioritize the best interests and well-being of the child before issuing any further orders.
In cases where a father holds parental responsibility for a child, a mother may have the ability to prevent the father from having contact with their child without involving the family court, provided both parents can agree amicably on this course of action.
If you are a mother seeking to prohibit the father from seeing their child, it is crucial that you thoroughly consider your position. We understand that you may harbor resentment following a divorce or separation and desire to completely eliminate your former partner from your life. However, it is vital that you grant the father access to their child. It is the child's right to maintain a relationship with both parents, unless there are suspicions of harm or abuse.
If you believe that the contact between the father and your child is likely to significantly harm them, it is imperative that you promptly seek legal counsel regarding the cessation of the father's access. Family lawyers possess the expertise to assess whether you have a valid reason to impede contact and can aid you in achieving this.
If there is no valid justification to prevent the father from seeing their child, you may be jeopardizing the father's relationship with the child, which could potentially lead to the imposition of an enforcement order or even allegations of parental alienation.
Therefore, regardless of the circumstances, it is essential that you seek legal advice to ensure that you do not breach any existing orders. Seeking legal counsel early on when contemplating the cessation of the father's access to the child can save you time and money. In collaboration with your legal advisor, you may be able to reach mutually agreeable alternative arrangements with the father, thus avoiding the costs and time associated with court proceedings.
We consistently encourage and advocate for contact with fathers, whenever possible, and only recommend impeding contact if it is in the best interests of the child. Ultimately, it is the child's right to have access to both parents.
If you are considering preventing the father of your child from seeing them due to one of the concerns outlined above, we strongly advise you to seek assistance from family lawyers. Contact us today at 0330 094 5880 or allow us to contact you back to arrange an initial consultation, which incurs no obligations, and our team will be available to assist you in resolving your child law dispute.
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