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Contact Orders: the Process

By: Elizabeth Mugan BA/BSc, PGDipLaw, BVC, CIArb - Updated: 1 Oct 2021 |
Contact Order Contact Parents Child

As a devoted father, you will want to maintain a close relationship with your children. Hopefully, your relationship will remain amicable with the mother of your children. Unfortunately, this is not always the case and you may find that you have to fight to see your children or alternatively, if the children live with you, then their mother may wish for contact.

There are a number of types of arrangements which can work for different families. The courts can make several orders under the Children Act 1989 in order to facilitate those arrangements where necessary.

The Courts are primarily concerned with the welfare of the child or children above everything else. Under section 8 of the Children Act, the Court can make a contact order.

A contact order specifies how often the parent who does not live with the child should see the child or children and the terms of that contact.

The Process

If you wish to apply for a contact order, the actual process differs according to your locality. You will need to make an application to either the County Court, the High Court or the Family Proceedings Court. A copy of the application is then served on the Respondent, who is commonly the other parent.


You will then be required to attend a hearing. At that hearing or shortly before, both parents are usually invited to attend a relatively brief meeting with a Children and Families Court Advisory Service officer (also known as a CAFCASS Officer). A CAFCASS Officer is someone who is experienced in dealing with conflicts regarding children. At this meeting, the Officer listens to both parties and sees if there are any areas of agreement.

First Hearing

During the first hearing, the Judge (usually a District Judge) will ask the CAFCASS Officer for advice (if they are present) and will identify the areas of agreement and also any areas in dispute such as visitation rights etc. This hearing is usually short in length and in most instances the parents may not even speak with the Judge.

Where no agreement is reached, the Judge may ask for a detailed report to be drafted by the CAFCASS Officer. This can take anything from three to four months and therefore, you may wish to request that the Court grants some contact in the interim period.

What Will the Report Detail?

The CAFCASS Officer will interview and possibly observe a number of things before reporting back to the Court. They will want to speak with both parents, possibly the school and may want to speak with family members. They may also wish to observe contact between parent and child in some cases. Depending on the age of the child, an Officer will speak to them alone to understand their wishes and feelings. The report is not “secret” and both parents get to see a copy before it goes in front of the Judge.

After this stage, there will be a further short hearing. A court will not always make an order. Most cases end at this point once both parents have reviewed the recommendations of the CAFCASS Officer and they decide to try the recommended contact arrangements.

What Are the Considerations?

When reviewing applications, the Court, Judge and CAFCASS Officer will take a number of factors into consideration with regards to the child or children’s welfare. These are:

  • What is deemed to be best for the child and the feelings and wishes of the child. This is considered according to the child's age and understanding;
  • How capable the parents (and any other relevant people) are of meeting the needs of the child or children;
  • Any harm that the child is at risk of suffering or has suffered;
  • The likely affect of a change of circumstances on the child;
  • The age, background, personality, sex and any other characteristics that the Court believes to be relevant; and
  • The child's emotional, physical and educational needs.

Final Hearing

Only if a parent does not agree to the recommendations, will a final hearing take place. In these circumstances, the Court hears evidence from the parents and any witnesses as necessary, before finally making a Contact Order.

It is important to remember that although this process may seem rather arduous and lengthy, the end result will be worth it. The most important consideration for the Court is what is best for the child. If you are a good father and want the best for your child or children, then you will be able to have contact with them in the end. Good luck and if you are fortunate enough to get the contact you need, check out our feature on coping between contact periods.

Check out the Separated Dads Forum... It's a great resource where you can ask for advice on topics including Child Access, Maintenance, CAFCASS, Fathers Rights, Court, Behaviour or simply to have a chat with other dads.

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[Add a Comment]
@zib.good question do i personally think this child is mine [.i don't know to be honest ]her mother got around if you know what i mean .and they refuse to talk to me and do a dna test .[it doesn't matter now anyway the child is 18 ].it is what is from the information i have got online most bio fathers not see there children anyway sum rarely see them .so yeah i think its the normal
christopher - 1-Oct-21 @ 5:47 AM
@christopher - I'd like to think social services would contact you if your daughter was at harm, as you have parental rights. Do you believe her to be? Sorry to read you've missed your daughter grow up. The mom won't rest in the grave.. She'll answer for it all. Stay strong man!
Zibaalah - 30-Sep-21 @ 7:03 AM
(My daughter is a beautiful smart young adult with the world at her feet). now and I never got to see her grow up .but if she come to me as a adult and told me she was hurt when growing up all she has to do is give me there names .
Christopher - 29-Sep-21 @ 11:28 PM
Zib.if social services cafcass where involved with my daughter .(yes the mother should be very fearful because I would take my daughter full time 100 percent) .hey I have question for the (website) if Social Services where involved would I be (contacted )bye them if my daughter was in danger??because I am her biological father im on birth certificate. (Please answer)??
Christopher - 29-Sep-21 @ 10:33 PM
I need assistance.. I seperated from my daughters mom 2 years ago. She took me to court making allegations of domestic violence, and also said she feared I was going to take my daughter away. Cafcass involved etc....got cao in place stating I can see daughter unsupervised as I was no threat to daughter 2 days per week 3 hours each day, to increase in time, and stop overs once no longer breastfeeding (2 at time she's now 4). Since then I've had an increase of 3 hours each day totalling 12hours per week, and no stop overs (keeps moving goal posts). For the past few months she's me messaging me and we've been meeting up and being intimate. We get along well, and I have a fantastic relationship with my daughter despite time constraints. I want to take her to court for joint custody, but I'm so anxious that I won't get what I want and deserve. Has anyone took an ex to court and won joint custody? If so I'd some advice. Thanks
Zibaalah - 29-Sep-21 @ 2:03 PM
Hi I have so to speak lost contact with my new baby boy it’s not so much lost as it’s more difficult at the time were in and the mother isn’t making it any easier for me as we made arrangements for her to drive to bring him to mine and stay Sunday's I’m on the sick at the moment but not classed unfit to see my child but I pay her money and bills but I had savings and they ran out and the money I give her has dropped by half I told her she was fine and I sent it and haven’t not sent money she really appreciate what I’m doing giving the current situation I’m living as I’m still house huntingas I’ve told her I’ve met another person she she conveniently couldn’t drive no petrol and say if I want to see him why can’t I got there as I informed her she had the last of my money for my baby boy I was wondering what to do about this thank you
Gaz - 24-Feb-21 @ 4:23 AM
@scotty.i have never meet a child that doesn't want to meet there parent. So I think your son will end up contacting you one day its been a decade and your on blogs like theses so your a good men .your son will want to meet you .just get social media he will most likely contact you .even if he is a adult plenty off time to catch up .I hope this helps you find peace .
C laurie - 23-Jan-21 @ 3:49 AM
@scotty.who knows the future your son might come and find you .pretty easy these days with social media technology. your son might track down .but with the time frame and circumstances I would just give up .I am sure your son will contact you one day.to then just let it go brother find peace .there are( millions off guys) in the same boat its just how things are its always been this way and will never change not in my lifetime.
C laurie - 23-Jan-21 @ 2:45 AM
@scotty.just give up brother been to long now .you should off done somethingdecade ago.
C laurie - 23-Jan-21 @ 12:16 AM
Hi I’m trying to gain contact with my boy after ten years,,me and his mom ended on bad terms, her and her new boyfriend came and forcefully took my boy away which the police didn’t believe and I also had an injunction taken out on me for 18 months because all of the lies she told the police,,, I’m clueless as to where to start any help would be very much appreciated,, I stayed away for so long because I didn’t want to disrupt my boys upbringing as every time Iv tried to get in contact I just ended up receiving death threats from her family members,, please get in contact if anybody can point me in the right direction and thank you in advance
Scotty - 22-Jan-21 @ 5:44 AM
This is sam .I bet you don't know( yourself) who her bio father is .but this is this godstruth i can( 100 percent say without a doupt its not me and if you want the proof I can show you the medical reports) .so it must off been one off your (manyflings ).but you can rule me out because it's not me .
C laurie - 30-Dec-20 @ 2:54 AM
This is to Sam, This is the truth no games lies or mental health .you want truth you know when you said your daughter was raped??. (I am not bullet proof )i just have facts I was born sterile (gods truth 100 percent and I can proof it ).one thing crystal and myself have in common.i didn't find out to I was 30 .so is Gordon bree father because i think back he was always hanging around back then .but there where always guys hanging around you .i Dealt with the pain now so you can tell me the truth or more importantly you should tell her bio father so he could get the chance to go to court to see her ?.thats the right thing to do but in reality it has nothing to do with me .
C laurie - 30-Dec-20 @ 12:10 AM
@tomo.i am the worst men to be giving advice when I went though it I was young and my mentality was have (the kid ).but I have mates who did it the proper way .I dont no your circumstances off the break .but what you need to do forget about the women do not contact her ever in reality she is gone past she is the( enemy now you walk alone now she gone boy ).now go to family law solicitor they are not that expensive and they will take care off everything let the solicitor talk to the mother .its pretty easy what I have been told bye my mates and the proof is in thepudding they see there children all the time.for me my circumstances where different I was wasn't actually in a relationship this this women and the child was my uncles or jacbos only the mother knows .so I hope this helps you out .
C laurie - 29-Dec-20 @ 10:58 PM
I am done i give up I am sick off( living In past) If the mother screws up my daughterthere is nothing I can do about it i tried like you said Sam she wants nothing to do with me .i wish I never meet you to be honest mothers who keep children away from father's are pure evil and don't care about there children.i wish I thought harder about having a child to you my father and Shane where right .the child is one who suffers
C laurie - 29-Dec-20 @ 6:41 AM
My son is having problems in family court.Everyone is against him.He doesn't even receive timely information about his 15-yr-old daughter.She's in a foster home; neither parent is deemed ready to have custody.She doesn't want to live with her father - my son.But he just wants to keep in touch.We're looking for a support group or organization to help us out in Champaign, IL.We can't afford a father's rights lawyer.His public defender is terrible.Ideas?Drew
Drew - 29-Dec-20 @ 12:45 AM
Hello all I lost all contact with my son due to my sons mother and new partner not wanting me involved in my sons life jealousy being the true nature its been 1yr over a 5 Yr order can anyone help in regards to wot I do to get back in touch with my little boy
Tomo - 20-Nov-20 @ 8:24 PM
Hi my ex has a contact order with cafcass rec . he has not allowed contact yet my daughter is now wanting to have contact with me and hes refusing to even talk about it with her. the case closed in 2014 where a report was done without a single visit with them just on what the father has cooked up . I dont know where to start could anyone help me with this ?
Kat - 11-Nov-20 @ 1:41 PM
I am going through this court proceeding and I have learnt so many things. No matter what happens you will get to see your child. Don’t let any solicitor or barrister scare you. It’s advisable you use a barrister or you might get a crappy order but solicitor might not be necessary if you don’t have the money. Just complete the process and you will see your child. The worst case scenario is you will go for the DAPP course. Let her lie all the lies she can lie, make sure you have evidence to prove she’s a liar and the court will not believe any other thing she says. You will see your child eventually. But make sure you don’t have alcohol problems or any mental health that can make court decide otherwise. If you do make sure you can prove that it’s no longer an issue. Some Solicitors always want to stretch the case, don’t trust them. Some barristers will want to stretch it too, stand your ground and tell them you want it to end as soon as possible. If you notice the barrister is trying to stretch it, tell the barrister that you are instructing him or her to not stretch it and make it fast. Also make sure you are calling the court to be sure processes are going as it should. If not it will take longer than usual.Best of luck guys.
Bashybash - 15-Oct-20 @ 6:02 AM
Hi, I'm sorry this is the wrong place to question this but, I feel like you guys may be able to help me out here. I'm currently in a relationship where my partner and her ex are now going down the court route. I personally have enough going on in my life and the thought of having to be involved with something that shouldn't really require me to be part of. But I fear as I spend time with the daughter there's a good chance they will want to talk me, I suspect? (Not to sound selfish or anything but this is between the both of them. If I was in her shoes, I wouldn't want her to suffer any stress because of something I have going on. I wan the best for the child 100%). Can anyone shed some light on the situation at all? What's likely to happen? Will they need to speak to me about it? CRB check I suspect? I'm just trying to prepare myself for this type of thing to happen as I suffer with serious anxiety and puts lots of stress and pressure on me. I hope you can help.
Stark20 - 9-Sep-20 @ 1:26 PM
Hi, I'm sorry this is the wrong place to question this but, I feel like you guys may be able to help me out here. I'm currently in a relationship where my partner and her ex are now going down the court route. I personally have enough going on in my life and the thought of having to be involved with something that shouldn't really require me to be part of. But I fear as I spend time with the daughter there's a good chance they will want to talk me, I suspect? (Not to sound selfish or anything but this is between the both of them. If I was in her shoes, I wouldn't want her to suffer any stress because of something I have going on. I wan the best for the child 100%). Can anyone shed some light on the situation at all? What's likely to happen? Will they need to speak to me about it? CRB check I suspect? I'm just trying to prepare myself for this type of thing to happen as I suffer with serious anxiety and puts lots of stress and pressure on me. I hope you can help.
Stark20 - 9-Sep-20 @ 1:18 PM
to cut a long story short the mother of my children got a non molestation order against me last August and within 2 weeks of this contacted me to give the relationship another try. She moved back in with me with my son which i had to hide from social services as she said if i told anyone she would stop me seeing my son again. She kept using my son to control me and every time i didn't do what she wanted would disappear with him so eventually after having enough of her games I told social services the truth. Even though she had lied as well it only went against me. In March this year court for child arrangements order stated I could have a video call with my son and see him in a contact centre fully supervised under the mothers request. She then contacted me and invited me round her house, after she had made allegations of me being a threat to her and my son and refused to put me on my daughterscertificate to safe guard her. For the last four months I had ro hide this from everyone under her threats that if i told anyone the children would be taken away. All part of her coercive control. Eventually I couldnt take her using the children as weapons anymire and ended the relationship and now she wont let me see them and is following the court order to the letter. Can I go back to court even after final arrangements order,and use this in my favour to get more custody legally as she clearly didn't see me as a threat to my children if she was happy for me to live with them?
jimmy86 - 24-Aug-20 @ 11:37 PM
seriously don't waste your time with these child arrangement orders. We did this in 2018 as the Mother was always changing arrangements or withholding kids. Applied for an Enforcement earlier this year with substantial evidence as she withheld the children for 3 months. Mother lied under oath saying one of the children had mental health issues. I got a SARS request to prove that she hadn't been to the Doctors or referred for any mental health help and the court/judge wasnt interested. Now I don't see one of the children due to this. Fathers are not looked after in the court. If someone doesn't adhere to the order they don't care, don't enforce it or give any penalties. Such a sad state of affairs. Yet another child ripped from their Father as the Mother lies and plays games. Such a shame. Dont waste your money.
Elizabeth - 24-Aug-20 @ 1:47 PM
My brother is going though this he spilt up with the mother of his child and at one point was letting him see him to nothing been over 6 month she spites all the family we havnt seen him has anyone got any advice for us ? Thanks
Danni - 21-Jun-20 @ 2:18 PM
Hi today was a hearing about the child arrangement... Ex was trying to force me to look after the Kids only when she want it means when she is at work from 2pm Saturday toMonday 4 30 after school we have 3 Kids 6 5 and 2 years old... And after some arguments I agree with it in the cort and went back from the court with the order saying I will have the Kids every all weekend but after few hours I found I will not have the time for my self at all this way and thinking it is not what I was looking for.... Is it possible to change the mind after one day and change the order or I must start the proces again through the court application etc... please
raf87 - 28-Jan-20 @ 4:37 PM
@mikeandjj.well mike when I went though the whole break up with the mother years agoI was put on all sorts off orders and wasn’t allowed to apply for( visitation) and if I remember correctly the last time I sat in the (lock up )over her mother i was (done) I had a injured arm at the time and I serously injured in the lock up where I was taking to hospital for surgery (again )under police guard it was very embarrassing to have everyone looking at me and been chaperoned bye the police at the hospital in prison browns .and j j because all this I refuse to have any contact with her mother I will (not )co parent with her and I don’t want any contact with her daughter my only demand is F off and leave me alone forever .
C.laurie - 9-Jan-20 @ 9:11 PM
Why is this site and its advice so obviously out-of-date or not suitable for the UK?You refer to Contact Orders which no longer exist and the CPS with regard child maintenance and they too no longer exist, being replaced by the CMS years ago. The advice given is useless as it is not specific to different country's legal systems
Mike - 9-Jan-20 @ 10:03 AM
My ex has barely seen our kids, has moved abroad for almost 7 years with no contact and on occasion blocked me for 7 months in the UK. I've offered contact but he won't accept it unless it's exactly on his terms which are ridiculous, he wants LESS than the basic minimum I've offered, he refuses to have direct contact with me or to co-parent (tbh kinda of grateful for this demand because he's awful) just wondering has anyone ever had a father refusing to have contact while constantly demanding it? Because it's off the charts bizarre!!
JJ - 4-Jan-20 @ 9:34 AM
Hi there just needing some advice. I have a court order and it says that I am to have indirect phone calls with my son every Wednesday at 5pm. My sons mother isn’t consistent with encouraging the phone calls. They rarely happen if at all. If I do talk to him it’s only for a minimum of 5-10 minutes. There is always distractions in the background his end. I have been lenient with the phone calls being slightly later but the time will exceed over 2 hours to the time in the court order. I just want to know my rights on where I stand with this , as it is becoming frequent. I want to do an enforcement order but I’m not sure if it is strong enough to do so. Could someone please help me
Bill - 16-Aug-19 @ 7:49 PM
I want to take out s contact order against my daughters Aunt & Uncle & Cousin being allowed or in my daughters company. Can I do this
H - 12-Aug-19 @ 5:34 PM
Hi my name is James. A few years ago I lived in England on a visa that allowed me to work and live in the UK for 2 years as a chef. When I lived there, I met a young lady and had a relationship with her and a child came out of it. My son is now 3 years old. I have been as present as possible with my son since his birth and have developed a very good relationship with him. As of about 3 weeks ago his mother has almost completely cut off contact with him and I. She has been to a solicitor without my knowledge and has set out for me to face time with my son every Tuesday and Thursday for 30 min, which has gone down from me seeing him minimum 4 times a week. All of this has happened over a letter of consent that I did not write for her on the day she asked for it, to take him to Spain. ( I am on his birth certificate so she needs my consent to take him abroad) I have complied with absolutely everything since his birth. The solicitor wrote me a letter stating not to have contact until the letter of consent was resolved. I wrote the consent letter the exact same day it was sent to me because I didn’t want to be cut off from my son. Contact was cut off for almost a full week after the consent was written. If there is anyone that is able to give me some sort of help or direction as to what to do next that would be great. I have a strong letter in response to this solicitors order for me to only see him a couple times a week over FaceTime. I am worried my relationship with him is being manipulated and I don’t want to lose him. Please help.
James - 7-Jul-19 @ 4:35 AM
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