What is reasonable access for fathers?
This is a tricky question to answer. Each case is different and there is no “one size fits all” answer as one type of contact arrangement that may suit some and not others.
When deciding on contact arrangements, you will need to consider how much hands-on care the non-resident parent can realistically provide and how much they have provided in the past. You also need to consider the age of the child, schooling arrangements for the child and any work commitments.
Where the primary carer is the mother and the child is very young and still being breastfed, it may not be practical for the child to be away from the mother for prolonged periods of time. It may, therefore, be arranged that contact will initially be limited to short periods with contact taking place in or near the mother’s home.
Where the child is school age, contact could be arranged to take place every other weekend with the absent parent possibly collecting the child on Saturday morning and returning the child Sunday evening. It may also be agreed that there should be midweek contact, perhaps one evening every other week. If the non-resident parent does not live nearby, or they have work commitments that prevents face to face contact during the week, parents may agree for midweek contact to take place by way of telephone, facetime or skype.
In addition to any regular contact arrangements, parents should endeavour to reach an agreement provision for the child to spend part of school holidays with the non-resident parent together with agreeing on arrangements for Christmas / New Year contact.
Both parents play a vital role and raising children and the law does not favour the mother over the father. The law recognises that save in exceptional circumstances, it is in the best interests of the child for them to have regular and consistent contact with both parents. If parents cannot agree on contact arrangements (or any other issues concerning their children) the Court’s primary concern, when deciding any matter concerning a child’s upbringing or contact with the non-resident parent, is the welfare of the child.
If you require further advice or support either before or during your separation or divorce, please contact Watson Thomas Solicitors for a FREE consultation on 01252 622422 or visit https://www.watson-thomas.co.uk for further details on all the legal services we offer.