Father's Day should be a celebration whatever the circumstances

13th June 2019

Father's Day should be a celebration whatever the circumstances

Father’s Day is a celebration of ‘fathers’ in all their many guises. It is an opportunity to recognise and show appreciation for the contribution that Fathers make to their families and to society as a whole.

But what happens when Fathers are estranged from their children and they are unable to join in the celebrations?

“Family occasions such as Father’s Day can be a sensitive time where the relationship between the parents has broken down,” comments Ellie Norton a trainee solicitor in Higgs' Family team. “Particularly if one parent has no or limited contact with their children.”

Emotions tend to run high following the breakdown of a relationship, and this can make agreeing contact arrangements more difficult. The main areas of disagreement tend to be when, and how often, a parent is to spend time with their children.

“Although it is not always the case, we still tend to see women and mothers given the role as primary carers for children following a relationship breakdown.”

Figures from the Office for National Statistics(1) show that approximately 90 per cent of single parents are women. Although ‘single parent’ is a much broader category than those who have gone through a divorce, the statistics highlight the fact that on the whole men are much more likely to be estranged from children than women.

Ellie continues “When a relationship breaks down, the most difficult conversations typically centre around the children and future contact arrangements. The law in this area is complex, however it is vital that those in a paternal role have an understanding regarding the options they have available to them when it comes to maintaining contact with their children.

“We appreciate that sometimes agreement on child arrangements is not possible and if all other avenues have been exhausted, the assistance of the Court may be required. Whilst we see this as a last resort, it is important that parents who have tried everything else do see this as an option.”

An application for a ‘Child Arrangements Order’ will ask the Court to make a decision on arrangements relating to:

  • where a child lives
  • when a child spends time with each parent
  • when and what other types of contact take place (phone calls, for example).

When dealing with this type of application, the Court’s overriding consideration is the child’s welfare. The arrangements in the Order can be as flexible or as robust as necessary, depending on the needs and circumstances of the particular family.

Ellie concludes: “When relationships have broken down we can help parents reach agreements that allow children to continue to spend time with all those who are part of their life. Working together with parents in this way means that occasions such as Father’s Day can continue to be a celebration for all, rather than a time of anguish for some.”

If you would like to find out more information about resolving disputes surrounding child arrangements or applying to the Court for a Child Arrangements Order, click here to contact the Higgs & Sons Family team or call 0345 111 5050.

(1)      ONS (2017) Families and households, 2017

Pictured: Ellie Norton


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