Posted by Simon Bassett, Partner
Keeping the contact – how Child Contact Centres can help
The Children and Families Act 2013 legislated that unless the contrary is shown, the involvement of each parent in the life of a child will further that child’s welfare. While this does not mean that each parent must have face-to-face contact, it certainly helps to make it clearer where the Courts stand on this issue.
However, practical difficulties often get in the way of ensuring that contact between a child and both parents can take place. Take Jack*, aged 6, for example. His parents experienced a particularly difficult separation some time ago which has resulted in the mother feeling unsafe around Jack’s father. His father had some difficulties with alcohol following the split and although he is recovering well, Jack’s mother is still worried about him spending time with Jack. Due to the problems between the parents Jack’s mother does not feel she can be present when Jack sees his father to make sure all is well. So what do they do? Both agree that Jack wants to see his Dad.
Child contact centres can help. The National Association of Child Contact Centres co-ordinates a national network of centres that offer families the opportunity to have contact with their child in a supported environment. Many centres are also free of charge for their users.
These centres are run completely by volunteers and rely on donations and grants to keep them running. Sadly however, grant funding has been cut and I am hearing of more and more of these centres closing down. In our vicinity (Oxfordshire) we have lost two, and the last remaining one in Cowley is facing severe financial difficulty and in danger of closing in August 2014 if the funds dry up.
If that centre were to close then children such as Jack would not have the opportunity of spending time with their fathers, at all or perhaps at least for a considerable period of time. They are essential to ensure that a parent can remain involved in a child’s life despite difficulties which might otherwise prevent it.
If you are interested in helping to ensure that we do not lose the remaining contact centre in Oxford, please follow this link: https://mydonate.bt.com/charities/cowleychildcontactcentre.
Anne is a solicitor in our family team with over ten years experience in family law. She specialises in cases involving children, including care proceedings and adoption matters. If you would like to talk to her or any of the other members of our Family team about residence or contact get in touch on 0800 923 2074 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
*Names have been changed to protect the identity
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