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Edward Bennett
Edward Bennett
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Contact Disputes: Towards meeting the needs of children
Date:2 MAY 2006
Anthony W Baker, Consultant in Child and Family Psychiatry, Ashwood Medico-Legal Consultancy, Woking, Surrey

In some well-publicised cases, the question of contact working well for children is problematical. When parents cannot reconcile their differences in the context of their separation there is a risk that the child's relationship with the non-resident parent will suffer. There is a presumption in law (see Waite J in Re B (Minors: Access) [1992] 1 FLR 140) that a child should have contact with both birth parents for the purposes of: identity with roots; making and sustaining a beneficent relationship; and allowing the child to draw upon their experience of each parent to establish their own self-identity and self-esteem. The caveat to this presumption is that only in the context of compelling reasons, for instance, proven child protection concerns or domestic violence, should direct contact between a child and parent be denied.

In relation to the question of maintaining contact with birth parents, the author has identified five criteria that would need to be fulfilled in the context of child who is no longer living with his or her birth parents but in substitute care. The five criteria are looked at in depth in the article.

See August [2006] Fam Law 682 for the full article.