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UKfamsol
UKfamsol, Family Solicitor
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 560
Experience:  Very experienced specialist family law solicitor, qualifed in 1994
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Hi just a quick question re contact orders. I have one for

Resolved Question:

Hi just a quick question re contact orders. I have one for my daughter, which gives me fortnightly contact, dating from 2007. Ex always very difficult, very vicious towards me, even worse at moment as I got married this year, contact stopped for 3 months,our daughter was ill every visit, but I try and keep peace, as contact ok at moment. Our daughter is 12 and even though has a whale of a time here, apparently doesn't want to come.. I get on really well with my daughter, so I'm not worried by this, I genuinely believe pressure is being put on her not to come. My question is about when the contact order expires? My ex has told me that when our daughter turns 13, it's completely up to her when she comes. I'm worried by this, as I thought the order lasted until 16. It is just a standard contact order and never had anything added about this.

Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Family Law
Expert:  UKfamsol replied 3 years ago.
Hello and thanks for your question.

You are correct - the contact order lasts until the child is 16. However,

1) if both parties agree, the details of the contact arrangement can be varied (ie changed) by agreement (ie not by one person alone).

but

2) If the contact stops or changes as a result of your daughter's alleged wishes when is she is 13, in theory you can take the matter back to court to enforce the order - but the court in considering the welfare checklist, must also consider your daughter's wishes and feelings. By the age of the 13, she would be of an age when her wishes and feelings would carry great weight with the court - so the question for the court would be - is what she says her genuine wishes or she being manipluated by her mother to say these things?

I think that being questioned by a cafcass officer or worse still by a psychologist could be very stressful for your daughter - "her word being doubted" etc so going back to court to be avoided if at all possible.

I'm thinking that maybe the best way is to reassure your daughter when she is with you, that you will ALWAYS believe her - that she can come to visit you for as long as she wants as per the contact order - but if at any time she DOESN'T want to come, you will respect her wishes - although you love her very much and love having her, of course! Hopefully, if she knows she doesn't HAVE to come, that will give her the strength to stand up to her mum to say she DOES want to come, if her mum tries to dissuade her.

Other than that, I would strongly recommend a diplomatic (VERY diplomatic) solicitor's letter to your ex to point out to her all that I said above, plus also to point out to her that she has a duty to encourage contact, as it is government policy that children should have contact with the parent that they do not live with, unless there is very good reason indeed why not.

Here's where to find a specialist family law solicitor near to you:-

http://www.resolution.org.uk/findamember/

I would also strongly recommend mediatiion - if not now, then whenever your ex says that your daughter is not coming to see you any more. The family court anyway now requires the parties to have attempted mediation before it will consider an application to court. Here's where to find a local family mediation service:-

http://www.familymediationcouncil.org.uk/find-local-mediator/

But sadly in practice, the older your daughter is, if she says that she does not want to see you, then the less likely is it that any court would order that she must see you.

Sorry not to be able to be more positive, but it would be worng of me not to be straight with you.

I hope this helps anyway, and I wish you the best of luck.

Thanks and best wishes....
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