Don’t you feel that some days you have just had enough? If your ex-partner, former husband or wife is making your life difficult, if not impossible, over contact with your child then that’s often the stage that Cheshire divorce solicitors are asked the question ‘Can I stop access to my child?’ There are many reasons why you might want to stop access or contact by your child’s other parent and that is why it is best to take legal advice from a Cheshire divorce and children law solicitor before stopping access.
Stopping access to your child is a big step to take and it is vital that you get it right. The repercussions of getting the decision wrong can be:
- The child’s other parent applying to court to enforce any existing access or contact order
- The child’s other parent applying to court and getting a child arrangements order so they have a court order for access to your child
- Your child blaming you for the decision to stop access and saying that they want to see or even to live with their other parent
- Your child’s other parent alleging that you have stopped access because of parental alienation (you are trying to alienate and distance your child from their other parent without any justification for doing so).
Whatever the background to your separation or divorce and the reasons why you feel driven to stop access, it often helps to sit down with a Cheshire children solicitor to look at your options and the alternatives to stopping access.
Reasons for stopping access
There are many reasons why you may want to stop access, such as:
- Your child says they don’t enjoy their contact visits with their other parent as they are boring and they would rather be at home
- You feel intimidated when your ex-partner calls to collect or return your child
- Your ex-partner has stopped paying child support and you don’t think contact should take place if they can’t be bothered to provide child support
- You don’t want your child to see your former husband or wife’s new partner during access visits
- Your ex-partner keeps turning up late or cancels contact visits at the last moment so you don’t know, from one week to the next, whether contact will take place or not
- The children always return from an access visit all ‘hyper’ and overtired and then can’t settle back into their routine with you for days.
Those are just some of the reasons given for wanting to stop contact. It is vital to discuss the reasons to see if there are alternatives, such as:
- Talking to your former partner about the contact visits to make them more fun for your child, rather than sitting around watching the TV. Those discussions don’t have to take place direct if you don’t think that would work. You could attend a joint meeting with your children law solicitor or use family mediation
- You could agree that your child is collected from school or from a relative’s home to stop you having to come face to face with your ex-partner at contact collection and return times and so you are not intimidated or upset by the access handovers
- You could let contact take place but apply to the Child Maintenance Service for child support
- You could use a solicitor roundtable meeting or family mediation to discuss why you don’t want your child coming into contact with a new partner or the effect of missed contact visits or too much sugar, to see if your former partner will listen to your concerns.
As a parent you need to do what is best for your child and, after exploring the alternatives, you may conclude that stopping access is in your child’s best interests. How you should go about that will depend on whether there are any existing children court orders in place.
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Court orders and stopping access
If there is an existing:
- Residence order
- Contact or access order
- Child arrangements order
Then you should take legal advice before stopping access to your former partner to your child. That’s because if you don’t take legal advice on the existing children court order you could find yourself responding to enforcement court proceedings.
If there is an existing court order in place, such as a contact order or child arrangements order, then you may need to make an application to the family court to vary the existing children court order before you can stop contact.
If there is no existing court orders in place you may be able to stop access but it is still best to take legal advice from a specialist Cheshire children law solicitor before doing so. That’s because a children solicitor can talk to you about alternate options and the prospects of your former partner applying to court so they can see your child under a child arrangements order. Sometimes, by stopping access quickly, after a particularly bad incident or trying weekend, it can play into the hands of your former partner and just create more headaches and hassle for you.
Our expert Cheshire children solicitors can look objectively at your options and help you work out what’s the best alternative for you and your children.