Child Contact and Residence
What is defined as contact with children? Who is allowed to have contact and what happens when contact cannot be agreed by both parties?
What is contact?
Contact is where the non-resident parent (i.e., the parent which the child does not ordinarily live with) has visiting or staying rights in relation to a child. Contact can be direct (face to face) or indirect (by way of letters, telephone calls etc.). Contact can also be visiting or staying or supervised by a third party (such as a social worker) or supported (at a child contact centre).
How are contact arrangements made?
In most cases contact can be agreed between parents but if this is not possible, family mediation may assist. If agreement can still not be reached it is possible for the court to make contact orders.
It is also possible for the court to make contact orders in favour of non-parents such as grandparents, but the court must agree that it is willing to hear the case and grant leave (permission) for the case to proceed.
There is an assumption that in the majority of cases it is in the interests of the child to have a relationship with both of its parents.
If you are a parent and need support to establish child contact our experienced family lawyers can help. Alternatively, if you are an unmarried parent or another relevant person in the child’s life and are looking to have more structured involvement in the child’s life, our family lawyers can discuss your specific circumstances and provide advice on the options available to you.
Residence is the term used to describe who the child lives with and who looks after the child on a day-to-day basis. It may often be the case that there is no dispute as to who the child should reside with. The person who the child lives with is seen to have ‘de facto’ residence of the child.
Since the introduction of the Children (Jersey) Law 2002, the familiar terms ‘custody’ and ‘care and control’ have been replaced by ‘residence’, ‘parental responsibility’ and ‘contact’.
Where there is a dispute as to which parent the child shall live with, an application can be made to the court to make an order to resolve it. The court can either make an order for sole residence, which means the child lives with one parent, or shared residence, where the child lives with both parents.
In determining the issue of residence, the court’s paramount consideration is the welfare of the child. In residence applications it is normal for a JFCAS officer to be appointed who will prepare a report with recommendations for the court based on meetings with both parents and the child.
We can advise you on the options available to you to resolve any contested issues with regards to the living arrangements of your children.
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