Child Contact Explained

 

Child Contact explained.


Child Contact, also known as visitation or access are the terms used to explain child contact after parental separation. Many separating or divorcing parents manage to transcend the difficulties and emotional upheaval and sort out positive child contact arrangements without the need to revert to legal or social work professionals.

For around 147 million people world-wide child contact issues are problematic, either because regular and reliable child contact is not established as a priority, there is a high degree of conflict, or there are concerns about the child’s safety and welfare.

It is the right of the child to have contact to the birth family and social policies encourage the maintenance of child contact as a presumed social good which promotes the interests of children and the wider society. However some resident parents enter into a regime of parental alienation constructing a negative story about the absent parent that has no bearing in truth but is delivered to the child in such a way that the child internalises the story as a truth helping to justify the resident parent’s need to undermine the child’s contact. Some parents really do have concerns and argue that their concerns about the child’s welfare, especially when issues of domestic violence and possible abduction are not listened to or taken into account.

Absent parents regularly report that their wishes and feelings are marginalised by biased legal systems. Likewise, there is a general feeling that children’s own wishes and feelings are not properly heard and although in many child contact policies and procedures the child’s voice should be heard, it is perceived as whispered as opposed to shouted and therefore rarely heard.

Although it is often claimed that child contact to both parents is good for the child in fact there is contradictory evidence. What is internationally accepted is that it is the nature and quality of parenting and not just the act of child contact.

Research tells us that children do want to stay in touch with their birth family and that positive child contact gives the child a clear sense of identity.

There is no evidence to support the belief that children are best placed with their mothers. Fathers are just as capable of delivering consistent, loving and positive care. Many mothers, for a variety of reasons, do not have their children resident with them but do have regular meaningful contact.

Child Contact to the extended family is also important, especially with grandparents. Even when contact to one or both birth parents is not in the child’s best interests contact to paternal and maternal grandparents should be considered and, where appropriate, encouraged.

In the UK almost half of children lose all contact with their grandparents after a family separation or divorce. It is reported that 42 per cent of children never see their grandparents again and 67 per cent are actively prevented from any sort of contact to their grandparents even when there was regular contact and childcare activities prior to the parent’s separation.

 

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