These days there are a plethora of children’s clubs and activities which are arranged by parents. They may inadvertently clash with the continuation of a contact relationship with the other parent though. In this situation, what happens?

Children’s clubs and activities

These can of course range from cubs/scouts, brownies/guides to football, rugby and other sporting clubs, dance, music and of course many schools these days offer a significant number of after school clubs to children.

There can be no doubt that it can be a significant benefit to a child to be able to explore their interests through these clubs and there is no reason why either parent cannot arrange for their children to attend any particular club that they may wish.

What happens when club attendance conflicts with contact agreements?

The difficulty that arises tends to be in a situation where the continued attendance at the club clashes with or conflicts with the continuation of a contact relationship with the other parent.

It is not uncommon for there to be an alternate weekend arrangement where the children will be with one parent on weekend 1 and the other on weekend 2, there may also be an arrangement for the child to either stay over with the other parent or simply go out for tea one or two week nights.

Consequently, the question that is often raised is what happens when continued attendance at said clubs conflicts with those contact arrangements and where the other parent particularly is not as committed to the child’s attendance as the other.

This can be less problematic during the week as there should be the facility for the parents to be able to exercise some degree of flexibility over the night on which the contact takes place with it potentially being swapped, if necessary, to avoid the particular club that the child attends, unless of course the child has been signed up to attend a club every single afternoon following the completion of school.

The view of the Court

In those circumstances the Court is likely to take the view that at least one of those would be of less importance than the maintenance of the contact relationship to the other parent. The primary conflict which will arise often therefore occurs in circumstances where the club falls at a weekend and one parent does not wish the child to attend and to engage in their contact with the child attending said club.

The situation and the way a Court views this may be significantly different in regards to the distance that might exist between the respective parents.

In circumstances where the parents live relatively close together and it would be feasible and appropriate for the contact parent to be able to take the child to the club to which they are committed, the Court may well take a view that it is in order for that contact parent to engage as fully as possible in the child’s life and activities and that they should indeed take the child to that club as part of their contact.

An example of a regular commitment

By way of example, I was involved in a case where a child was heavily committed to ballet and dance which took place on a Saturday morning. It was necessary for her to attend each and every week so that she could then participate in the regular performances that were put on by that dance school. It was clear that this was important to the child. The dance school allowed and indeed encouraged the parents to attend and watch their child whilst they undertook their training.

In this particular case, the “father” determined that he felt that this was interfering with his time with his child and refused to take her to her dance class. Within the proceedings the Judge in effect gave him a choice – either commence contact on a Friday and commit to taking the child to the dance school (and engage in his daughter’s passions) or alternatively his contact would commence on Saturday afternoon. Despite being provided with this choice, for reasons which are not entirely clear, the father chose to commence his contact on the Saturday afternoon.

In circumstances however where the parents do not live close enough together for the contact parent to engage in those activities reasonably and/or feasibly, the Court is almost certain to prioritise the contact over the club and/or activity on the basis that on the balance of benefits to be obtained by the child the continued and maintained relationship with the other parent is of more importance and benefit to the child than the continuation of that club.

If you have asked questions in relation to the impact of children’s clubs and activities on contact and would now like more information on the different types of proceedings relating to children, please get in touch below and we would be happy to assist you.


This article is part of a series on Private Family Law and Children Law proceedings. If you would like to learn more about the rules around parental responsibility, contact, holidays and arrangements for separated parents, please click here for the full series.

The next article in the series will address children’s school and medical appointments.

If you would like to discuss the different types of legal proceedings relating to children, please get in touch and we’d be happy to assist you.