Please note this is not legal advice only a suggested helpful process if you have Parental Responsibility for your child (this mainly means you are on the child’s birth certificate). Contact is still possible if you are not on the child’s birth certificate, please ask for more details. An Outreach Worker from Families First Southampton can support you at any stage of this process. Also see: www.gov.uk/parental-rights-responsibilities/what-is-parental-responsibility
- Write a letter to the mother of your children formally requesting contact with your child and keep a photocopy of the letter (if any restraining orders are in place its best to discuss this with a mediation service). It maybe helpful to suggest a good place to have that contact, for example this could be that you will be with a mutual friend or family member whilst the contact is taking place in the initial contacts. A toddler group setting that both parties are comfortable with (see our Father Friendly Groups) or suggest the Southampton New Dawn Contact Centre in Shirley, Southampton will assist in handovers: www.shirleybaptist.org/whats-on/event/new-dawn-child-contact-centre
- Contact the National Mediation Service 03300101367 they will arrange a MIAM which is a one off assessment of whether mediation is possible. For many people Family Mediation is the best option as any further court orders will be practically worked out by agreement between both partners.
- Apply for a Child Arrangement Order from court, legal aid support is very limited in private law. Fathers have represented themselves or have used a used a McKenzie Friend (a lay person who can support you but is not able to speak for you). Go to www.gov.uk/looking-after-children-divorce/apply-for-court-order and download a C100 form. The C100 is also available from Southampton Combined Courts where you can drop in and request a pack or phone 02380 213200 for paper copies or email email@example.com. You need to complete and then print off two further copies, to have three in total to submit. It can often be an advantage to complete this form as far as possible and then book an initial consultation with a solicitor for about half an hour. The charges for this can range from £50 to £100 plus VAT, if you prepare well you can access considerable information in these sessions.
Things they may be helpful along the process, stay calm if it feels like you are confronted with too many barriers, ask for some support. Keep evidence of having Parental Responsibility (PR) and a copy of all correspondence. Build evidence that you are attempting to remain in contact with your child, you have a right to have school reports and an appointment with school to discuss your child’s education. Firstly write to the school providing any evidence that you have PR, your child’s name, date of birth and address if known. If you are unaware of the school your child attends, request this by writing to: School Admissions Southampton City Council, Civic Centre Southampton SO14 7LY
Send your child some information about yourself that indicates that you want to be part of their life. Don’t expect everything to happen straight away this process does take time and contact maybe gradually increased particularly if you have not seen your child for some time. This process has nothing to do with any maintenance payments for your child.
The information is a process suggestion and applies to England and Wales and is not specific legal advice.
Please consider that law and child arrangements are complicated and we have provided a simplified process as a guide so you have an idea of how the law could apply to you.
Please do not rely on this process as a complete statement of the law and do access legal advice if unsure.
Coram www.childrenslegalcentre.com Helpline: 0300 330 5480
Child Law Advice Service: Please visit www.childlawadvice.org.uk for advice and information on child, family and education law. Phone: 0300 330 5480
A solicitor has made three useful videos that explains what to expect when attending court: www.youtube.com/watch?v=AVMahol7Y
Useful information available from www.sortingoutseparation.org.uk