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Ask the expert: My ex won't let me see my daughter because I can't maintenance

A family expert advises how parents can maintain contact with kids after separation if there's an access problem

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'Everyone's situation is different, and if you have a formal court order or legal guidance when it comes to contact with your daughter you should first go back to whoever put that in place to get advice on the next best steps to take'

'Everyone's situation is different, and if you have a formal court order or legal guidance when it comes to contact with your daughter you should first go back to whoever put that in place to get advice on the next best steps to take'

'Everyone's situation is different, and if you have a formal court order or legal guidance when it comes to contact with your daughter you should first go back to whoever put that in place to get advice on the next best steps to take'

Q. I'm self-employed and have had no income during lockdown, so I've been unable to pay maintenance for my daughter, who lives with my ex. My ex won't let me see my daughter because I can't give her any money, and I've called and texted but get no reply. What can I do to see my daughter?

A. Hayley Paterson, a key worker at the charity Action for Children, which is offering online help for separated parents during the pandemic, including advice on how to communicate with ex-partners, says: "Everyone's situation is different, and if you have a formal court order or legal guidance when it comes to contact with your daughter you should first go back to whoever put that in place to get advice on the next best steps to take.

"If these arrangements don't apply to you, it's always better for parents to try mediation before starting legal proceedings.

"Are there other ways you can communicate with your ex if they aren't responding to calls? Could you maybe send a letter or get a message to them via a mutual friend?

"Try to open other communication channels with your daughter too if you can't see her face-to-face at the moment. Can you video call or speak via a messaging app? Even dropping her a little message or sending her an emoji keeps those channels open.

"You could send your daughter letters and pictures too, so she knows you're thinking about her.

"This must be an incredibly frustrating time and it's important to look after yourself as well.

"Be amicable and open - and try to be empathetic and sensitive to your ex as well, who like everyone will be dealing with stress and anxiety during this pandemic.

"Most importantly, remember your child is at the heart of this and it's so important that whatever solution you work towards it needs to be in her best interests."

Belfast Telegraph