Q. I recently found out my ex has been found guilty of possession of cannabis. There is a Court order saying he can see our children every other week. Can I stop him from seeing them?
A. As there is a Court Order in place you should not breach it. On the face of the Order there will be a warning notice setting out that if you do not comply with the Order you may be held in contempt of Court and may be committed to prison or fined or the Court may make an enforcement Order requiring you to undertake unpaid work or pay financial compensation.
If you do breach the Order you must convince the Court that you had good reason to do so. In these circumstances it would entirely be a matter for the Family Court to decide whether stopping the children from seeing their father was a reasonable thing for you to do. If the Court did not find that you were reasonable, it could impose one of the above penalties.
Often the best starting point in cases regarding children is family mediation. Family mediation affords the parents the opportunity to sit down together and with the help of a trained family mediator discuss what is in the children’s best interests and any concerns you may have.
Family mediation is always child focussed; it is far quicker than going to Court, creates less acrimony and is a lot cheaper. Family mediation is one of the few remaining areas where legal aid is available. Matters can be discussed in full confidence and at the conclusion of mediation a Memorandum of Understanding is drawn up and shared between the parties so everyone knows where they stand. The MOU can even be placed into a court Order if necessary.