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Tips: Managing access

Here are some strategies for you to consider if you anticipate you may have access challenges with your ex-partner:

The court order

  • Get as much precise detail in the access terms of the order as possible.
  • Have multiple copies of the order so one is always available to show the authorities if a problem arises.
  • Orders should include a condition that the terms of the order are enforceable by the police. In some areas, the police will only enforce orders if it is specified that they do so.

Set boundaries

  • Monitor the children’s phone/email contact with their father and end calls/exchanges that become inappropriate.
  • Have caller ID installed so you can screen calls, and only accept calls from your ex-partner at times the children are available to talk to him.
  • Limit what can be spoken about during telephone calls with your ex-partner, and end the call if it becomes intrusive or abusive.
  • Arrange access exchanges away from your home.
  • Resist the temptation to spend special occasions such as children’s birthdays and cultural/religious celebrations with your ex-partner.
  • Let him receive information about the children’s health, education and general welfare directly from the children’s care providers.
  • Limit contact with former in-laws and family members who behave in an abusive or disrespectful manner.

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Keep a record

  • Document any and all problems – complaints the children return with, suspicious injuries, comments made by the kids about what went on in the visit, times he missed or was late for access, any threats he has made to keep the children, abusive behaviour toward you when he picked up or dropped off the kids.
  • Let your lawyer know any time you deny access.

Get support

  • Depending on the circumstances, consider counselling for the children so they have an outside third party with whom they can talk through their concerns.
  • Have a witness present for access exchanges.
  • In situations where there are serious concerns for the children’s safety, contact child protection authorities.

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