When Your Ex-Partner Denies You Access
The break-up of a relationship can be difficult in many cases. It can be even more distressing if you and your ex have children together and your ex won’t let you see your child.
But can a mother stop access? What happens if my ex-partner won’t let me spend time with my child? Are they legally allowed to do that? Or can I stop my ex-partner seeing my child? It might not even be straight after you break up; sometimes access is stopped or restricted after it seems to have been working well for a while. Why would my ex do that?
Even worse: what can you do if your ex is making false accusations about you?
This short article explains what you can do to resolve these sorts of problems and get (or continue) reasonable access to your children in the important years when they are growing up.
Why won’t my ex let me see my child?
There could be many reasons for your ex suddenly stopping, restricting access or contact with your child. It might be a bargaining chip if they are planning divorce or other legal proceedings. Maybe they want to punish you for the breakup of the relationship.
Of course, it is not always about a mother not letting the father see their child. The roles could be reversed if the child lives with their father.
It could be that they have some concerns about your child’s welfare or safety while they are spending time with you. Or it could even be that your child themself feels uncomfortable with the arrangements.
However, whatever the reason, it is not as important as you finding out what the problem is and what you can do to spend time with your child.
So how do I get access to see my child?
The best way to find out exactly why access/contact is being restricted or stopped is to discuss it with your ex-partner. However, this is easier said than done if the two of you don’t communicate well following your break-up – especially when the issue is as emotionally sensitive as your children.
This is where mediation can help. Mediation can help people discuss these sorts of issues without it ending up in an argument. The mediator does not take sides, their only interest is in making sure your discussions stay on track and keep focused on finding a forward-facing solution that can work for everyone concerned. In this case, it would be identifying the issues, reasons for restricting or stopping contact are and what each of you needs to do to ease the other’s concerns.
If you are concerned about even being in the same room as your ex-partner, we can still help. With shuttle mediation, you will not have to come face to face with your ex-partner. You will be in different rooms and your mediator will move between you.
I’m happy to try mediation, but what if my ex-partner refuses?
If you initiate an attempt at mediation by having a MIAM with one of our family mediators, we will contact your ex-partner and invite them to have a MIAM of their own and start the mediation process. However, they are not forced to attend mediation as the process is voluntary. If they refuse to take part, we will be able to issue you with a certificate confirming that mediation has not worked. You will need this before you can make an application to the family courts.
Although it is possible to represent yourself at court, you may prefer to instruct a solicitor who is experienced in family law to present your case. The family court can be an unfamiliar and quite intimidating environment for many people and it is particularly important to present your case clearly, concisely and objectively to give you the best chance of a successful outcome.
Your solicitor will probably ask for an interim contact order at the first hearing if there are no safeguarding issues to give you some level of contact until the full hearing takes place. Any contact the judge orders in the meantime will probably be quite limited and you might not get permission for your children to stay overnight with you (known as staying contact) at this stage if your ex objects. However, it should be better than no contact at all.
The final hearing will probably not take place for many months. The court will probably order a CAFCASS report to help the judge decide what arrangements will be in the children’s best interests. The result of the final hearing when it eventually happens will be a formal court order directing how much time the children spend with each parent and when. The terms of the order are binding on both parents and it is not uncommon for both parties to be unhappy to some extent with the terms of the order.
If you or your ex-partner do not fully comply with the terms of the court order, it is a serious matter which could result in a fine – or even prison – for the person not complying.
It is always distressing – for the parents and the children – if disputes about access or contact with your children drag on following a relationship breaking down. It is always better for everyone concerned – especially the children – if these disputes can be resolved without having to go through the courts. Court action is lengthy, expensive, stressful and confrontational. It could easily take much more than a year to conclude matters, during which time the parent who is denied access misses out on their children growing up and developing.
The best way to resolve disputes around access and contact with your children if you and your ex-partner do not communicate well following your break-up is through mediation. Mediation can help you and your ex-partner identify the exact issues that are getting in the way, discuss them objectively and relatively calmly, and come to an agreement which you both agree you can live with and addresses your main concerns.
Most importantly, it is often the best way to come to a quick and satisfactory conclusion so that your children can enjoy good relationships with both parents without feeling that they are constantly stuck in the middle of an argument between their parents.
Contact one of our friendly and professional team on 01134689593 and let us discuss with you how we can help you get better access and contact with your children.
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Frequently Asked Questions
What can I do if my ex-partner won’t let me see our child?
This can be a very upsetting situation for a separated parent to deal with. The best way to get to see your child on a regular basis is to talk to your ex-partner about the situation and ask them why they think there is a problem and work out jointly what you can each do to ease their concerns.
What if my ex-partner won’t talk to me about our child?
Many people find it difficult to communicate with their ex-partner, especially on emotive subjects like contact with your children. Mediation can be a big help in establishing lines of communication with your ex-partner and discussing issues in a less tense and stressful way.
Do I have to go to court to get to see my child?
Going to court should be the last resort, not least because of the large cost and length of time that court proceedings take before a final decision and order is reached. It is much quicker and cheaper to try to resolve your differences through mediation.
Contact with my children has suddenly stopped. What can I do about it?
There could be many reasons for this. Your ex-partner might have their own motives for preventing contact, or it could even be that the children themselves have concerns about the arrangements and tensions between you and your ex-partner. The most effective way to find out the reasons and therefore what you can do about it is by discussion the issue with your ex-partner, with the help of a mediator if you find it difficult to communicate directly with each other.
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