Children adjust best to family separation when they are able to maintain contact with both parents.
A contact order will stipulate the arrangements agreed upon including direct forms of communication such as face-to-face visiting rights; and in-direct forms such as letters, video, text, email and telephone calls etc.
You must comply with a court order or risk being in contempt of court with serious consequences.
Indirect contact (through letters, gifts, phone calls, e-mail, texts etc) may be arranged either by one-way contact where your child does not contact you back, or two-way, where your child replies to your correspondence. Indirect contact can be a way of re-introducing an absent parent to his/her child.
Direct contact refers to face-to-face contact, with your child meeting or staying with you. Depending on the circumstances of your case it usually takes place at your place of residence and may include weekends, short/long stays and holidays. The amount of contact is usually specified in the order, although in some cases flexibility exists for arrangements to be made by the parents. The resident parent has a responsibility to make the children ‘available for contact’, which is important for fathers from the point of view of enforcing the order.
If there are concerns about a child’s safety, or a father has not seen his child for sometime, supervised contact at a contact centre may be appropriate where someone can supervise the meeting. The order may also contain conditions for the contact to be built up over time. Depending on circumstances, the court may order ‘supported contact’, where the other parent, family member or a friend is present.
An interim order can be made by the courts pending agreement or final order and can be issued before the establishment of a routine that excludes you from the children’s lives. This type of contact arrangement is usually on a temporary basis until the matter is settled at a full court hearing.