despite the abducting parent not receiving any maintenance from the other parent, who cannot afford to pay, and not being able to pay her own rent, so that she must keep moving homes, causing more stress and instability for the children who, she says, “are poor and depleted from going through years of this stuff”. She describes her worry at knowing that she has nothing in reserve, so that if she became sick or had an accident and was unable to work, she does not know what would happen to the children. She wants to leave so that she can return to her family, where she has support and help. She is willing to agree a contact regime with the other parent but, with few resources available to them, international contact is a luxury that would be difficult to finance.
There are other cases where one parent believes that things are settled but the other parent expresses dissatisfaction and is searching for answers to the imperfect predicament that describes most separated families.
We asked the interviewee parent whether they thought that contact with the other parent, if and when it happened, worked well.
Most parents seemed to accept that the child(ren) wanted contact with the other parent and enjoyed those times, although there were some criticisms of the way in which the other parent chose to spend the contact periods and the manner in which the “hand-overs” took place so that the child(ren) did not feel free to enjoy both parents without criticism. Non-residential parents spoke of the perceived changes in the child(ren) at the beginning and end of contact periods when the child(ren) was more tense and restless, and of how the child(ren) kept the 2 parents apart, seemingly understanding that they have 2 separate lives. One father described how the child could not initially deal with going back after a contact visit to her residential parent because she