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Indirect Contact Orders

Indirect Contact: On what basis do such orders promote the welfare of children?

We regularly hear from many dads and some mums about judges and Cafcass Family Court Advisers proposing indirect contact only with children after separation i.e. sending and receiving of letters, cards and gifts, without any parenting time at all. Often they express the view that this will consequently lead to direct contact developing. What, we ask, is the basis for such optimism? A survey we carried out suggests that there is no basis for this at all, with just one out of 154 respondents saying it led to direct contact. The May 2019 issue of legal journal Family Law Journal published an article by barrister Sarah Phillimore and Families Need Fathers exploring the issues further, sharing some of the detail of our survey results and calling for the Ministry of Justice to publish data on how often these orders are made by family courts and to commission research into their outcomes.

Our survey also found that 58% of respondents were either told by Cafcass of the family court judge that indirect contact might lead to the restoration of visitation. Cafcass were more likely to suggest this (37%) and judges slighlty less liketly to (34%) - the figures add up to more thatn 58% due to overlap where both made such comments. If you have not taken part in this survey already then feel free to add your experience for further updates of this work.

If you have experience of this, please contact your MP, ask to meet with him/her and describe to them of your experiences. Tell them about this article and ask them to make representations to the relevant minster, currently Paul Maynard MP and David Gauke MP, calling on the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) to start capturing separately data for cases where only inidrect contact is ordered.  This will help to distinguish between when the order is made because of safeguarding risks to the child from the parent, and when it is because previous orders for direct contact failed to take place, or even because of the assessed risk of harm to the child of ongoing proceedings (as opposed to anything the applicant parent has done wrong), or for other reasons e.g. non-compliance with previous contact orders, parental alienation, etc. Currently MoJ data only states whether there was a contact order and does not distinguish between direct contact and indirect 'letterbox' contact. Please also ask them to ask the minister to request that MoJ or Cafcass commision in-depth, independent research into the likelihood of indirect contact leading to direct contact.  Our figures suggest it is barely better than none at all and therefore a very poor basis for Cafcass and judges to base making such orders. You can find out who your MP is online. Please feel free to share any responses you receive with us at

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  • Today's Metro reports on actress Anna Friel's struggles with work-family balance. Great to see her say she sacrificed an LA career as "it would have taken Gracie away from her father and friends". Previously it had been reported that she said of her ex “He’s a great dad and lives just across the road.". Parents working together and prioritising their daughter! Hope it continues to work out. Help us to make family separation better for children by following us, liking and sharing our posts, making a donation, becoming a member or registering for free.
  • The third case reported in a month or so of children killed by a mother with a range of difficulties in her life. On the face of it the father's opportunities to be involved with the children were limited. Another tragic case that adds to the weight of evidence that the narrow focus of the current review of child protection in family courts, focusing essentially on risks posed by men, is too narrow to address the underlying and wider issues around child safety. The Ministry of Justice called for the review following a Victoria Derbyshire show in May focusing on four selected child homicides where the father was the perpetrator. Our thoughts are with all the family. You can support us by registering for free, following us, liking/sharing our posts, becoming a member or making a donation.
  • Parental Alienation - A great interview by RTE1 in Ireland with Brian O'Sullian, Consultant Systemic Family Psychotherapist who deals with PA cases. Please support us by following us, liking and sharing posts, registering for free, becoming a member or making a donation.
  • Yet another tragic case in the space of weeks that challenges the mistaken gendered narrative about child homicides being at the hands of fathers. The bereft dad told the court the mother was emotionally controlling "she knew it was the ultimate punishment" he said and "How I wish I had never taken them back to her. I only did this because I thought every mum deserves to be with their kids." Our thoughts are with the father and all the family. Please support us by following us, sharing and liking our posts, becoming a member, registering for free or making a donation.
  • Families Need Fathers shared a post.There’s going to be a debate on the CMS (Child Maintenance Service)on Tuesday next week in the House of Commons. The MP leading this wants to hear about your experiences of it. Please comment on the House of Commons post for your chance to feed into the debate. The post contains a link to a private platform if you wish you submit your comments in private. The deadline for responses is midday on Monday 22nd July 2019.
  • A couple of weeks ago a 'guest blog' by, self styled 'feminist' barrister Charlotte Proudman was posted on the Transparency Project's Website. Her comments follow on from her appearance alongside FNF on the Victoria Derbyshire Show on 15th May 2019 when she said that Parental Alienation "really turns my stomach", the existence of which she questioned. Child Protection Resource website published our response to the Family Inquiry Panel and the feelings and dogma that are being promoted in this discussion. Please support us by sharing and liking our posts, following us, becoming a member, registering for free or making a donation.

FNF HSSF Kite Mark Award

Families Need Fathers has been awarded the Help and Support for Separated Families Kite Mark which is a new UK government accreditation scheme for organisations offering help to separated families.

Families Need Fathers work with a range of family law professionals, including Family Law Panel


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