If there is a dispute over contact and it is left to the Courts to make a decision as to whether contact should be allowed the Courts have to consider the following factors (as set out in Section 1 of the Children Act 1989):
• Above all the court has to consider what they believe to be in the child’s best interests and the child’s welfare is their main priority.
• The wishes and feelings of the child as far as can be determined (considered in the light of the child’s age and understanding) are taken into account. There is no strict rule as to the age when a child’s wishes and feelings should be taken into account. The older the child, the more likely it is that the Court will take account of that they think.
• The child’s physical, emotional and educational needs
• The likely effect on the child of any change of Circumstances
• “Any other person” who is likely to affect the child if contact is agreed is also taken into account. For example, the applicant’s new partner. Their history therefore becomes relevant and if there is a negative history, such as a conviction for sex offences, violence or drug abuse this will undoubtedly affect the Application for Contact and could mean that it will be rejected
- The parent’s ability to look after the child. This includes:
- The parents working hours
- Ability to provide adequate housing
- Financial security for the child