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Ask The Legal Expert: Divorce and Contact

View profile for Angela Killa
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Angela Killa, from our Family Law team, tackles a common divorce issue where a couple are divorcing with recrimination on both sides.

My 13-year-old daughter is becoming distant from me and my wife has said, in front of our child, that spending time with me is too stressful for her. Will the Court help me maintain contact?

This is a very common situation, which many divorcing parents will recognise.

One of the main priorities of the Court will be, except in exceptional circumstances, to support a child to maintain contact with both parents.

 However, as many parents will tell you, it is vital that you do all you can to address this issue before things get to Court. As you are experiencing, children can feel torn about being seen to ‘side’ with one parent and it is easy for a parent, who has the child’s trust, to use them as a weapon.

If your wife feels wronged and if she chooses to share details of the breakdown of your relationship, or if she behaves as if she is wounded when your daughter enjoys her time with you, this can put your daughter in an impossible situation.

In very extreme cases, the Courts have seen one parent encouraging a child to manufacture serious allegations against the other parent, leading to police involvement. 

The best scenario would be for you and your wife to agree that hassle-free contact with both parents is the ideal situation for your daughter. However, when feelings run high, this can be hard to achieve.

 A situation where one parent works to distance a child from its other parent is called Parental Alienation. It is fairly common for a child caught in the middle of this scenario to tell the Court emphatically that he or she doesn't want contact.

 The Children Act 1989 requires the Court to take a child’s wishes into consideration when they make a ruling on parental rights to access. In a situation like yours, the Court will try to ascertain what is going on within the family.

 If they see no evidence to justify the prevention of contact their priority will be to re-establish your parental relationship. If Court Orders are ignored, and if manipulation continues, the Court may be forced into a transfer of residence to you, in the interest of the child’s welfare.

If you need advice in this complex and specialist area, contact Angela Killa at JCP Solicitors on 01267 248893 or by email:angela.killa@jcpsolicitors.co.uk

Angela is an Associate Solicitor in our Family Team based at our Carmarthen Office. Angela specialises in all aspects of Family Law including complex children matters, divorce and financial remedies. Angela is a fluent Welsh speaker. 

Read more about our specialist Family Team here

*The question posed in this blog is based on a hypothetical situation.

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