Help for separated parents in dispute over childcare plans

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Parents going through the trauma of a relationship break-up, who are having difficulty obtaining contact with their children, are invited to attend a meeting tonight (Thursday).

Recent changes in the law mean separated parents in dispute over their children can no longer obtain Legal Aid to go to court and seek residence and contact orders.

Aylesbury Child Contact Centre is hosting the meeting at the Methodist Church in Buckingham Street at 7.30pm to explain what other avenues are now open to families in such circumstances.

Chairman Sue Hewitt said: “What we provide hasn’t changed. This centre is for people in dispute who cannot reach agreement.

“But we want to raise awareness about the change in the law. And explain that the Citizens Advice Bureau and mediation are options which could be considered.”

Everyone is welcome to the free meeting. Solicitors, social workers and the police have all been invited too.

Mrs Hewitt said the government has withdrawn Legal Aid unless there is proven domestic violence, saying it is up to parents, not the court, to determine the best course of action for their own children. But in cases where a relationship has broken down it can be very difficult to reach agreement.

At the meeting a specialist solicitor will be available to help answer questions about how to sort out who a child lives with and how to arrange contact meetings.

The Aylesbury Child Contact Centre provides a safe, neutral space for a parent to spend time with their children and is run from the Methodist Church two Saturdays a month. Six volunteers work in shifts to supervise the visits. Up to 30 families are given assistance each year by the Centre, with 14 or 15 families linking up each Saturday.