How can I stop a father seeing his child?

Our child law specialist commonly advise and assist on the topic of how can I stop a father seeing his child.  

The general presumption under English Law is that both the mother and father of a child should be involved in the child which is in the best interests of the welfare of a child. Therefore, your partner cannot legally stop you from having access to your child unless continued access will be of detriment to your child’s welfare.

This also applies to mothers who consider stopping father seeing child.

Common reason for stopping father seeing child?

Many mothers often question how can I stop a father seeing his child?

A mother can only stop a father seeing their child if the child is at risk of exposure to circumstances or behaviour that presents a safeguarding issue. The concerns which usually fall under this category are:

  • criminal activity
  • domestic abuse
  • drug/alcohol misuse
  • any other inappropriate behaviour that puts your child at risk

If any of the above apply the courts will not be reluctant in stopping father seeing child.

This will last until the issues have resolved or there has been a further change in circumstances.

Unless these special circumstances apply the mother will not be able to stop a child seeing her father given that the law promotes the relationship of both mother and father. As well as the parents having a right to see their child, the child has a right to see both parents and receive the love and care of both parents.

Not good reasons for stopping father seeing child

Some mothers wonder can I stop my child seeing her father. It is important to note that contact should only be refused where there is a good enough reason to do so. This is particularly the case where there is a risk of violence or safety issues. Simply stopping father seeing child because there were delays in returning or collecting a child for contact is not a good reason to stop a father seeing his child. There may be occasions where the father has failed to carry out a scheduled contact session with a child. This is unlikely to be a good reason for stopping a father seeing his child.

Quite commonly family lawyers are asked can I stop my child seeing her father if the father refuses to pay child support. Again, refusal or failure to pay child maintenance is not a valid reason for preventing a father from seeing his children.

Child support which is also known as child maintenance is a separate issue to child contact. A child’s contact cannot be withdrawn on the basis of issues with child support payments. It is the legal right of the child to have contact with both parents which is beneficial to them and this includes contact with the father.

The options available to the court when stopping father seeing child

When considering the welfare of a child the courts will make a decision whether to stop a father seeing a child. If there is clear evidence of potential harm or risk to the child, the court may order a father to completely stop seeing their children.

Other options available to the court are:

  • How long you can see them – whether or not any overnight contact is awarded or the duration of the contact itself.
  • When you can see them – This could be during the week, during weekends or school holidays and special occasions as well as festivals
  • How you see them – this can be through supervised contact, Unsupervised contact, contact centre or your home
  • The type of contact – such as direct physical contact, or indirect contact such as letters, emails or phone.

Although the law promotes an active relationship of both parents with the child, the contact and access one parent has with their child can be stopped or restricted when the courts consider the welfare of the child.

The courts can therefore stop a father seeing his child if it affects the welfare and interest of the child.

Can I stop a father seeing his child if his partner is abusive or violent?

As previously stated it is the right of the child to have access and contact with both parents. Furthermore if the father has parental responsibility he has a right to have a say about the child’s upbringing and welfare. The father is also able to see the child without any restrictions on how the contact sessions are held.

If the father’s partner is abusive or violent there are other steps which can be taken to restrict the contact your child has with the father’s partner. This resolves the issue rather than to stop a father seeing his child. An application could be made to the family court for a prohibited steps order. In this situation you would need to convince the court that it is in your child’s best interest not to meet their father’s partner and how any contact with the father’s partner can impact your child.

If you are successful in securing a prohibited steps order this will prevent the father of the child from allowing the children to meet his partner unless ordered by the court.

In the case of an abusive or violent new relationship you will not be able to stop a father from seeing his children unless the father is abusive or violent and is at risk of causing harm or abuse to the children.

Can I stop a father seeing his child if the child no longer wants contact or refuses to go

There may be occasions where a child no longer wants contact with their father or refuses to go to see their father. In such situations a mother should try and understand why the child feels this way rather than stop a father seeing his child. The courts place the child’s best interests and welfare as the most important factor when determining any child issues. It is therefore important that any concerns or issues raised by them are listened and discussed with the father.

It is therefore important that any concerns or issues raised by them are listened and discussed with the father.

If at all possible the mother should discuss the issues with the father and share the children’s concerns. The conversation should try and be to assist the father better understand the reasons for his child refusing contact so the father can try and look at making changes.

If following the initial issues the child still refuses to see their father then an application can be made to the court to amend the current contact in place. Although the courts take the child’s welfare and wishes into account, it would need to be proved that the current contact with the father is detrimental. The child’s opinion of not having contact is alone not sufficient as the courts will understand that it is in the child’s best interest to have both parents in their life.

There may be other considerations which need to be given to a situation where a child no longer wants contact or refuses to go to a contact session with the father. Mothers should promote a child’s contact with the father to avoid there being any issues of parental alienation. Although a child may not want contact, a father may try and argue the mother is alienating the child which could cause more issues.

Can I stop a father seeing his child if the child is scared?

There may be occasions where a child has had regular contact with their father and suddenly is scared or afraid to go to contact. As a result, you may want to stop your child seeing her father. Again, in such instances a mother should try and ascertain the reason as to why the child is scared. The father should also be consulted to try and reach the problem of why the child is scared. It may be the case that the child is going through a stage where they just don’t wish to go to a contact session with their father or alternatively there may be a real problem which needs addressing.

A mother cannot stop a father seeing his child unless the court orders to do so.

If the child is scared of the father due to some kind of abuse or harm, then the mother would need to speak to the child and gather evidence which may prove the child being at risk.

How can I stop a father seeing his child without going through a family court?

A common occurring question is whether a mother can stop a father seeing his child without going through a family court. The key consideration in deciding whether you could prevent a father from seeing his child is whether the father has Parental Responsibility. Parental responsibility grants a father all the legal rights and responsibilities for their child. Where a father does not have parental responsibility over a child then a mother can stop a father seeing his child.

If a father who is not in receipt of parental responsibility wishes to have contact with their child they would first need to establish parental responsibility via the courts by obtaining a parental responsibility order. Once the father has established parental responsibility then an application can be made to the court for child contact.

If a father has parental responsibility over a child a mother may still be able to stop a father seeing his child without going through a family court if both the mother and father are amicably able to agree the same.

How can I stop a father seeing his child if there is a Court Order in place?

A key point to note that if there is an existing child contact or arrangement order in place then this is legally binding. Stopping father seeing child can constitute as a failure to follow a court order. Failure to follow the order can lead to a breach of an order which could result in a mother being in contempt of court.

Therefore, if a mother is looking to stop a father seeing his child without a valid reason then this can have significant implications. In such a scenario the father can revert back to the court for enforcement of the existing order. This could potentially lead to an enforcement order against the mother, a prison sentence or a fine amongst many other powers the court has.

If, however, the current child arrangements are not working the matter can be referred back to the family court. A families circumstances may change, the behaviours of one of the parents can change or the child may no longer want contact with a father. In such instances an application can be made for a variation order.

Common reasons for a variation order are where parents struggle to comply with terms of the order, child doesn’t wish for contact with a parent or where one parent is relocating. Following such an application the courts will consider the change in circumstances and if applicable amend the current arrangements in place. Again, as with initial procedure the courts will consider the best interests and welfare of a child before making a further order.

If a father has parental responsibility over a child a mother may still be able to stop a father seeing his child without going through a family court if both the mother and father are amicably able to agree the same.

Warnings about stopping father seeing child

If you are a mother who is looking to stop a father seeing his child, it is important you thoroughly consider your position. You may be feeling bitter following a divorce or separation and may want your former partner completely out of your life. However, it is important that you allow the father access to see his child. It is the right of the child to have access to both parents unless there is risk of harm or abuse.

If you feel contact of your child with the father is likely to be of significant detriment to your child, then you should immediately seek legal advice on stopping father seeing his child.

Family lawyers will be able to assess whether you are in your right to stop contact and will be able to assist you in stopping contact.

If there is no valid reason to stop a father seeing his child, then you may be jeopardising a father relationship with a child which could lead to an enforcement order or even of allegations of parental alienation.

It is therefore important that whatever the scenario is you obtain legal advice to ensure you are not breaching any orders. Obtaining legal advice early when considering stopping father seeing child can help you save time and money. Together with your legal adviser you may be able to mutually make alternative arrangements with the father and avoid the expense and time of going to court.

Consult legal advice on stopping a father seeing his child if you have concerns

If you are looking to stop the father of your child from seeing their child due to one of the concerns mentioned, then you should seek assistance from family lawyers. Contact us today on 0330 094 5880 or let us call you back to arrange an initial no obligation consultation and speak to us to assist you in resolving your child law dispute.

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Chester House
1st and 3rd Floors
81 - 83 Fulham High Street
Fulham
London
SW63JA

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20-30a Abington Street
Northampton
NN1 2JA

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1 & 3 Kings Meadow
Oxford
OX2 0DP

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Clavering House
Clavering Place
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Tyne and Wear
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