Keeping flexible when creating a child contact agreement
In this video interview by Alternative Divorce Guide Suzy Miller, with Divorce Mediator John Stebbing of Stephen Rimmer LLP, John explains how creating a contact agreement can be a difficult area. The reason it’s difficult is because children grow – their needs change.
You don’t want the couple concerned tied to an arrangement which isn’t in the interests of those children anymore.
So, you need to have the right type of wording/paragraph that enables the agreement to acknowledge the changing situation of the contact arrangements or care for the child as that child grows through to 18. So it is probably dangerous to put in wording that is very prescriptive, using very precise terms. Often parents are focused on what they feel is best for the children right now – and it can be difficult to envisage how their needs will change over time, and also how to get a good balance of clarity and flexibility with the language used. This is why getting help from an experienced solicitor to create the agreement is a good idea.
Often even court orders don’t have very precise terms. If they do, they follow up with a paragraph that says there should be such other alternative contact, for instance, as the parties may agree from time to time. And that is recognising that a child is not stuck at the age of 6 – they keep growing and over all those years they have different needs and very different arrangements that need to be made for the child. Both Mediation and Collaborative Law are both ideal methods to use in order to create a mutually satisfactory child contact agreement that will place the child or children at the heart of the process.
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