Can my ex insist that they are present during my video/audio calls with our child?

Many child contact arrangements contain a provision for telephone or video contact. But problems can arise when the resident parent insists on overseeing such contact and being present whilst it takes place. Many parents in this situation will find that their child is reluctant to talk as it stifles conversation and makes things awkward. So, can your ex insist on being present during your video or telephone calls with your child? Read on for more information.

If you are experiencing issues with the contact with your child and you feel you need legal advice to resolve matters, contact specialist family solicitor Maria Coster of Stowe Family Law. Maria has an excellent record in family law matters as well as being involved in a number of complex cases involving issues such as domestic violence, substance misuse, and parental alienation.

What can I do if my ex refuses to leave the room when I have telephone/video contact with our child?

It can be stifling on both the non-resident parent and the child when the other parent insists on being present during video or telephone contact. If you have a court order, it may be a requirement that contact takes place without the other parent being present, although in the case of telephone calls, this can be hard to police. In the absence of an order setting out the mechanics of indirect contact, it can be difficult to demand that your ex is out of the room, and far easier for them to refuse to budge.

If this becomes such an issue that it is adversely affecting contact with your child, then you can make an application to court for a Specific Issue Order. This type of application only deals with the issue being complained about, so if you wish to revisit contact in the wider context, then you would have to apply for a Child Arrangements Order. As part of any application, you will be required to attend mediation, where this type of problem is usually ironed out without further proceedings being entered into.

What things should I consider when arranging telephone/video contact?

The time of day that the video or telephone call takes place, and its duration should be appropriate for the child’s age, and consideration given to home routines, shorter attention spans, and homework. Like other aspects of child contact, establishing a successful video schedule is about keeping the lines of communication with your ex open. Talk to them, call when you say you’re going to, and do your best to make the online time you have with your child a rewarding experience.


Tips for video/telephone calls with your child

Here are our suggestions for a smoother telephone or video call experience with your child:

  • Unless there is an emergency, parents should not initiate calls more than once a day when they are in the other parents care.
  • If the call goes unanswered, do not expect your call to be immediately returned, or continuously call the child until they pick up. Try to schedule a specific time where they will be waiting to take the call and stick to it.
  • The parent should not expect the child to give a blow-by-blow account of their day. Quite often, when pressed for information, it is common for children to suddenly have a memory lapse and not remember anything at all.
  • The resident parent should not intercept the call or fail to give messages from the non-resident parent.
  • Parents should not record their conversations with the child or the other parent.
  • The resident parent should always give the child privacy so that they can speak freely with the other parent. It is extremely difficult to have any meaningful contact when a third party is hovering around and listening in.
  • Parents should not put any guilt on the child for wanting to call or talk to the other parent.
  • Parents should not send the child to the other parent with a secret mobile for the purpose of calling them without checking with their ex first. This puts a child in the middle of their parents dispute and forces them to take sides.
  • The non-resident parent should make sure they choose appropriate times to call. Activity locations or very late at night should be avoided, as the child will probably be distracted or tired.

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