Home > Legal > Contact Orders: the Process

Contact Orders: the Process

By: Elizabeth Mugan BA/BSc, PGDipLaw, BVC, CIArb - Updated: 28 Mar 2023 |
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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This is my third application in family court after meet all the requirements court ask me to do in last final court order. This application according to cafe case I should do 4 video call 4 supervised contact and 2 unsupervised contact with child after doing that my ex lie thatchild don’t want to see his father so last court hearing court involved cafecass again and ask cafecass officer to attend on 11th may coming court hearing i don’t have solicitors im scared that my ex will take my child away for forever I’m looking for help so someone can come court with me please
Naz - 28-Mar-23 @ 3:22 PM
Another fathers day no visits no jocks or socks or gift cards ,I got the worst daughter in the world ha ha ha she reminds me off myself ,happy fathers to me ,(love you bree )
C laurie - 4-Sep-22 @ 1:20 AM
Section 8 of the Children Act 1989 refers to Child Arrangements Orders, which apply in cases of parental separation, divorce, etc. Contact Orders are derived from Section 34 of the Children Act 1989, and concern children in local authority care ("looked after children") where a care order has been issued by the court.
Gab D'Vee - 31-Aug-22 @ 3:32 PM
@pat,my name Is Bill and I shoot to kill .I sorry to hear this my deepest apologies .my grandson he knocked up the town trollop and she won't let him see is baby aswell what's the world coming to these millenniums they are a differentbreed two busy taking photos off there self these young ones like to document everything the other day I was out shopping and I seen these young fella ha ha haI thought he was talking to a( tree )my friend said he'sfilming wtf .there only one guy on this planet who can get away with that and that's David Edinburgh from national geographic. This clown looked insane was a good laugh .yeah my advice give up there no hope trust me .
Billy - 22-Jul-22 @ 1:12 AM
My son ex partner as stopped us all having contact with the children . She as applied for a court contract order putting in place . It’s been 13 weeks . Can she stop contact while we are waiting for a court date .
Pat - 21-Jul-22 @ 2:17 PM
@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
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
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
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
Guys,Man up! If you want to see your child then go and see him/her. I had so many runnings with the police... but it was worth it, Went to their schools, playground and anywere i deemed appropiate; keep you high and tell everyone off that tries to stop you. Police being called? You wont get charged, just be polite, informed, prepared and show your child that you fight for him/her. They will remember, and will make their own choices when they see their peers having a family life. In terms of cost for legal advice, my advice is to educate yourself on Family law, relevant case law and other regulations. I have done it and it worked!
badmaas - 16-May-19 @ 8:51 PM
Hi there baisicly I've been separated from my ex wife for over 2 years now and she got me arrested for assault and threatening words and behaviour which I was only arguing with her to try and c my children we both was arguing and I pleaded not guilty in court and then the judge believed all the lies and found me guilty for domestic violence and I had to do a anger management program and probation but I finished everything and then I got in contact with my ex about trying to see my kids again and she let me have them both every weekend which I was really happy with and I met another partner who I'm currently still with now my ex found out about me being in another relationship so she stopped the contact with my kids and it's been a year now I still haven't seen them both I've been taking her to court and I can't afford a solicitor as the csa are taking all my money but it's got to a stage now in court where my ex is saying I'm violent and the kids hate me she has completely brainwashed my babies and they are both saying they love me but they don't want to see me and cafcass are on her side she is also going for no contact at all and cafcass have recommended that I have a no contact order Its making me so depressed and sick I just want to c my children but it looks like I've lost I did say to the court and cafcass I would like to see my children in a contact centre but they are saying that no contact is better me and my children are so close but they have both been told to hate me now if someone on here can help me or if they know anything I can do please reply
Col - 27-Mar-19 @ 11:00 AM
I live in Devon and my ex has moved to Bournemouth with DS. There is no court order placed but she's only allowing me to see him through a contact centre there. She has agreed to mediation but I fear both of these processes will take up a fair amount of time to get settled. Can I take DS from the centre if I wish? I can only see that if there is a referral (from court) or, if it is a written agreement between both parents... Is the written agreement based on court proceedings or the rules of the contact centre? Would she be given the option to refuse this to happen. I'm not in a position to go to court for joint custody and feel the only real way I'm going to get to raise my child is to bring him home with me. I don't want to cause more trouble but I miss him so much.
Pine - 25-Mar-19 @ 4:17 AM
Hey daughter you just need to channel my spirit and my love for you remember to always stay in school and make something off your life darling .your mother is no good a grub ugly on top off it .
Chris - 3-Mar-19 @ 6:25 AM
(Goodbye bye beautiful daughter I love you more then anything bree you are the apple off my eye to we meetagain .god bless angel I know you be right you have half my blood Andspirit witch can’t be beat that’s gods truth .
Chris - 3-Mar-19 @ 6:01 AM
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