It’s every separated parent’s worst nightmare. Your ex won’t let you see your child, and you’re stuck wondering what on earth to do.
Finding yourself in this position can be incredibly distressing, but don’t panic. There are several ways to regain access to your child, and we’re here to help.
In this guide, we’ll explain whether your ex can prevent you from having contact with your child and what you can do in response.
Can my ex stop me from seeing my child?
Your ex can stop you from seeing your child, but only with the support of a court. If a court hasn’t been involved, your ex cannot legally prevent you from having contact with your child.
In UK courts, a child’s welfare is always the number one priority. If a court decides a parent is a risk to a child’s safety or well-being, they will step in to protect the child. However, if this isn’t the case, the court prefers both parents to be able to have a relationship with their children.
“What can I do if my ex won’t let me see my child?”
As experienced family law solicitors, we’ve heard this many times. If you’re being prevented from seeing your child, there are several steps you can take, ranging from opening a dialogue with your ex to taking the matter to court.
Speak to your ex-partner
Separated parents often feel like they can’t agree on anything. Whilst it can be difficult to see eye-to-eye, the one thing you’re still likely to have in common is wanting the best for your child.
Going through a separation can be a very upsetting time for a child. As parents, you should make every effort to minimise the impact on their life. Being denied contact with a parent will cause your child more distress and should be avoided wherever possible.
If you’re on speaking terms with your ex-partner, opening a dialogue to see if the issue can be resolved for the benefit of your child is always a good starting point.
Our guide on resolving disputes over children without causing more conflict has some great tips on communicating with your ex-partner.
Speak to a family solicitor
If the matter can’t be resolved by speaking to your ex-partner, it’s time to consult a family solicitor. A family solicitor can write to your ex-partner on your behalf, proposing a suitable arrangement for you to have contact with your child.
Mediation or alternative dispute resolution (ADR) is a great way to resolve disputes fairly and avoid expensive court proceedings. During mediation, all parties can share their views on the situation, including your children, if appropriate. The process is managed by a mediator who acts as a neutral third party.
If an agreement is met, your lawyer or mediator can help you draw up a Parenting Plan to record what’s been agreed upon.
If mediation doesn’t work for you or one party refuses to participate, a court application can be submitted. However, the court will want to see that mediation has at least been attempted before proceeding.
Submitting a court application should only be considered when all other options have been exhausted. It’s slower, more expensive and more stressful than resolving the issue outside of court. That being said, it is sometimes necessary.
The court can implement a child arrangements order stating who children live with and where, when and how you see them, and who else can see them.
The court’s decision will always be based on what’s in the child’s best interest.