What is access?

Access is the legal right of a child and an adult to have contact with one another when they no longer live together.

It often follows a separation or divorce. However, it can follow on from a breakdown in any relationship where you may wish to continue having contact with a child or children from that relationship. This right can also be granted to relatives and others.

A child has a right to maintain contact with a parent or guardian, if they want to. Where the child's age and level of understanding are appropriate, the voice of the child can be taken into consideration as part of any court decisions.

Access should not be confused with guardianship which is the legal responsibility of a person to perform duties regarding a child's upbringing and welfare. Nor should it be confused with custody which is about a child's day-to-day care.

Note: a parent or guardian who is not currently living with the child or partner is sometimes called a non-resident parent or non-custodial parent.