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What children think about contact

Tags: contact, cara share, children-parent-relationship, making arrangements, what arrangements should be made
Content Types: Children In the Middle
Categories: After Separation

Both parents need to agree contact arrangements, but these need to take account of changing circumstances as children grow older. Younger children benefit from frequent and regular contact, but older children prefer parents to be flexible, as they have their own social activities and friends to make time for.

Research into how children feel about contact shows that:

  • Most children want contact
  • Most children see the parent who has left home as important and still part of their family
  • Losing touch is painful and, even where there is contact, some children want more
  • Children within the same family may feel differently about the same arrangements
  • Children are more likely to feel happier with arrangements if they are involved in decisions and feel they can talk to a parent about problems
  • Children need to feel that their views about contact are taken into account
  • Children usually enjoy contact, but it can cause distress, a common problem is when parents don't turn up as arranged
  • Other problems for children include; feeling torn between parents, seeing parents argue, harassment or abuse, being used as a go-between, relationships with a parent's new partner, missing the resident parent, boredom, and having to move between two homes

Some children will fight against contact - they may feel too upset, angry and confused for a while. This is likely to be temporary.

What contact arrangements should be made?

There's no one way of arranging contact to suit all children and parents.

Some parents share care, where a child spends, say, 30 to 50% of their time with one parent and the rest with the other. Sometimes, contact is every other weekend, holidays only, or day visits.

Arrangements will depend on their own personal circumstances, the distance between their homes, suitable accommodation, any financial constraints, and working patterns. What the children want and their age and maturity will all need to be considered.

Adults' and children's needs change as circumstances change. So you may have to review contact arrangements to fit in with, for example, moving house, changing school, a new job, new partners, and the arrival of new babies.

If you need help arranging contact

If you find you need help deciding on child contact issues and other aspects of your separation, Family mediation could help you to exchange information, ideas and feelings constructively. You would remain responsible for all decisions.

Further reading is available on how family mediation works and children in the middle after separation.



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  • Pc Jamie Flag

    hi jonny , I bet they have ! can you put your post on the forum and more people may respond there

    Tue 6, Aug 2013 at 7:47pm
  • User-anonymous jonny0607 Flag

    I've been separated for 7 yrs, kids now 10&14.. I've always been a hands on Dad and never shrieked from my responsibilities as a father, I love my children. I've taken my ex to court twice in recent years to get parental responsibility (we were never married) and once because because on many occasions she has used the kids to get back at me when things don't go her way.
    I haven't seen or heard from my eldest for 8 months and miss him immensely, I don't know why despite having been to court very recently. Mum has always been a very poor and selective communicator and has never done anything to support my relationship with the kids...
    Has anyone had a similar experience of a child losing contact??

    Mon 5, Aug 2013 at 6:39pm