contact order

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A court order requiring the person with whom a child is living to allow the child to visit or stay with the person named in the order (typically the other parent). Such an order usually requires face to face meetings, but can also involve indirect contact such as e-mails or letters. The whole question of contact has become one of major importance recently; case law indicates that under the European Convention of Human Rights, contact is a right of both the child and the parent that can only be interfered with if there is sound justification for so doing. The leading case on the principles applicable to contact is the Court of Appeal's decision in Re M (Contact: Welfare test) [1995] 1 FLR 274 (CA). There is a strong presumption in favour of contact, but each case must be decided on its merits and in some cases the fundamental and emotional need of a child to have contact with both of his parents might be outweighed by the depth of harm the child might suffer. Where a parent is violent, the court must carefully weigh up the risk against the positive benefits of contact, and of particular importance will be the willingness of that parent to change his conduct (Re L (Contact: Domestic Violence) [2000] 2 FLR 334).

Subjects: Law.

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