Australian law news

Reinitiating contact with children after a long period of no contact after divorce

There are a variety of reasons why contact with children may cease after a divorce, from one parent restricting access to children not wanting to see their other parent due to bad feelings around the divorce and seperation to the constraints of time, energy and money. If you are looking to reintiate child access after a long period of non-visitation, here are some steps to follow. 

Take it slow

While you might be eager to take on a more day to day role in your children's life straight away, the court prioritises the mental health of the children and will encourage a slow and steady approach to rekindling the relationship. It can be a good idea to have a schedule where access gradually increases over time to create the least possible stress for both the parents and the kids. You can also use non physical contact to help strengthen the relationship between visits such as phone calls and emails. 

Get advice from counsellors

If one of more of the parties is finding the transition to more visitation challenging, it can be a good idea to get some counselling. This can help to relieve any underlying emotional issues such as tension around the divorce or feelings of abandonment that have been bubbling under the surface during the period of non contact. This can also be a good avenue to discuss some of the benefits of having contact again with the child, such as getting advice from a same/opposite sex parent and getting to spend time with a wider circle of people who love them. 

Get legal advice

If some of the reason you have not been able to maintain contact in the past is due to the other parent it can be useful to get some legal advice, to help formalise the parenting arrangement. This way if your ex-partner prevents you from accessing the children in the agreed manner, such as not turning up for handovers, you can get some support from police and the court to enforce the access. This can also help your ex-partner to understand that you are serious about wanting access, so that they do not try and bend the rules to suit them. 

Family law encourages both parents to share in the responsibility for raising their child, as well as encouraging both parents to have a relationship with their child. No matter how long you have spent without seeing your child, there are still pathways to reestablish a relationship with them. Speak to a family lawyer to get insight into the best way forward for your situation.