Q: I really want my children to have a relationship with their father, but I am worried that if I agree to him having contact with them, he will not return them home to me. Is there anything that I can do to stop this from happening?
A: Firstly, does the children’s father have Parental Responsibility (PR)? PR enables people to make important decisions about their children, including who they will live with. In most cases PR will be granted to the father of the children if his name appears on the birth certificate and he was present at the registration.
You could seek a Child Arrangements Order (CAO) from the court to determine who the children live with, and which other relatives they can have contact with and when. A CAO is legally binding on both parents and can be enforced by the Courts if not complied with.
Before applying for a CAO, however, you must first partake in a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM), unless you are exempt for reasons such as being a victim of Domestic Violence, which would require proof. If mediation is unsuccessful, then the Court will deal with the matter.
During the court process, both parents can argue their case. Under s1 of the Children Act 1989, the court must then make an informed decision to determine whom the order should be made in favour of, by considering all factors on the Welfare Checklist. Factors in the Welfare Checklist include: the wishes and feelings of the children; their physical, emotional, and educational needs; the likely effect any change in circumstances may have on them; their age, sex and background; any harm that may be caused to them; the capability of each parent in meeting the children’s needs; and, finally, the range of powers available to the court. You should make an appointment with a family solicitor to discuss your options.
This question has been answered by Deon Hayward, a Solicitor with GHP Legal. If you would like to speak to someone about this or any other legal matter it is still possible, and we are doing everything we can to ensure that we continue to offer our high levels of service to our clients. Where possible, we ask that you communicate with us by phone or email. If you have a new enquiry or for an appointment visit www.ghplegal.com or contact one of our offices: Wrexham 01978 291456, Llangollen 01978 860313, Oswestry 01691 659194