What concerns do parents have? How can the Office help?

Separation often brings parents feelings of mutual distrust, fear of retaliation, or fear of negative impact on the child (e.g., incitement against the other parent, neglect, etc.). Parents are often more concerned about the other parent's care than the child themselves.

The child has the right to contact with both parents, just as each parent has the right to reach their own child. Arbitrarily limiting contact is an illegal act and does not benefit the family.

On the other hand, it can be challenging for the child or the parents to have contact. That is why there is a network of support services to help with communication so that everyone can meet each other as much as possible, most enjoyable, beneficially, and safely.

Assisted contacts

Assisted contact is a supported meeting between parents and their children to freely develop mutual relationships between the child and the parent with whom the child does not live. It provides a safe environment, support for coping with barriers of contact, assessing the benefits and risks of contact concerning the child's condition, and, where appropriate, help with planning the next steps.

Parents are advised to contact the local child protection authority (OSPOD) first, which has the most experience with social services offering assisted contacts in the area and can give them tips on available services. Our Office can also pass on its experience or, on behalf of parents, can reach out to the local social services to find out about service options in the region.

The goal of assisted contact is to re-establish the relationship between the child and the parent, building mutual trust between the child and the parent. Assisted contact is not intended to supervise one parent's care or as a surveillance of the parent.

How can the authority help with parents' concerns about contact?

Suppose a parent approaches the Office with a fear of contact. In that case, the family situation is discussed with the parent, and ways are sought to reduce this fear together. The Office can help parents plan for contact or help them find services near their homes. The office psychologist often leads consultations, and a lawyer can supplement the legal framework.

The risk of manipulation of the child, the risk of psychological or even physical harm, the fear of the child being detained by the other parent, poor information about the course of contact, the loss of contact with the child while staying with the other parent, or the risk of so-called parental abduction is most often discussed with the parents.

The Office can offer parents tips on preventive measures or rules to avoid complications. The Office always supports both parents in handling the situation with respect for their child's rights.