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Contact Orders

A contact order basically requires the person the child is living with to allow the child to stay or visit the person bearing the said order, or at least for the bearer and the child to keep in touch.

A contact order is usually brought up when two parents cannot agree on the type of contact they should have with the children. The order should detail the arrangements that the parties have agreed upon, as contact not only refers to visiting rights and staying, but it also covers other forms of communication, such as letters or telephone contact.

As mentioned, there are different types of contact that should be stipulated in the contact order. Keeping in contact with parents is a childís right, not the parents, as such a contact is mainly for the childís welfare.

Direct Contact refers to the child physically meeting up with the parent, and it usually involves visiting or staying. Visiting contact usually takes place at the fatherís residence. Staying contact, meanwhile, entails an overnight stay with the non-resident parent.

While the arrangements are still being worked out for the contact order, an Interim Contact can be prepared until the order is all settled during a full court hearing. The hearing may result in a Defined Contact, where the court decides on the schedule of the parentís contact with the child. Whereas Reasonable Contact allows both parties to agree on the level of contact allowed.

A supervised type of contact may also be given, and this usually takes place in a contact centre, where there are volunteer staff to supervise the meeting. This type of arrangement may be depressing due to the atmosphere of the contact centres. The mother may also specify the place for the contact, and she or a relative can do the supervising.

Another type of contact order may result in indirect contact, where the parent is not allowed to be in direct contact with the child. When you are granted this type of order, you may communicate with your child through letters, gifts, phone calls, e-mail, postcards, or other methods other than actual physical contact.

It is also possible that the mother will refuse to consent to a contact order. There are various reasons for this, and one of them is to use the order as a bargaining tactic, especially where divorce is concerned. Some even go as far as to use it to hurt their former partner.

However, do not be dismayed as there are measures one can take when contact denial occurs. The first thing to remember is that the denial should be addressed as soon as possible. When the denial is issued, send a letter to the mother and request that the contact be re-established. For special cases, you may have to take immediate legal action.

The entire process may take quite some time, so it is advisable for you to apply for an interim contact, which can help settle things while the legal process is going on. This type of contact order will include the contact details while your request is still pending in the courts. It is not recommended that you settle out of court, or wait for the full hearing before applying for interim contact.

The legal process may take quite some time, and delays are nothing new to these sorts of cases. This will cause less contact between the children and their father, and the situation could also be used against the father. A denial of contact is also possible, with the purpose of alienating the children from their father. These are the reasons for the application of the interim contact.

Remember that as a parent, you, too, have the right to spend time with your child and be involved in their upbringing. You have a right to be with them, and the contact orderís purpose is to protect that right and make sure that you fully exercise it.

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