Understanding Parents Rights Over Their Children

15 May 2024 | Kesha Pabari
parents with their child

Table of Contents

My ex-partner is telling me that I cannot see our children. Is this allowed?

There is a common misconception that mothers have more rights than fathers when it comes to the children, and that it is them who call the shots in respect of contact.

In reality, both parents with parental responsibility have certain rights and responsibilities towards their children, and the child has a right to see and receive the love and care of both parents.

However, there are certain circumstances where a parent might try to stop the other parent from seeing the child, and the court might agree with them. This usually happens in cases where a parent poses a threat to the child’s safety or wellbeing.

Some of the reasons include:

  • Allegations of domestic abuse or violence towards the other parent and or child
  • Substance abuse or addiction issues
  • Criminal activity
  • A history of behaviour that could put the child’s wellbeing at risk

The court is very unlikely to limit contact for lesser reasons, particularly where the child is not at risk, such as:

  • Falling behind on child maintenance payments
  • Disagreements over parenting styles or decisions
  • Disagreements regarding the finances
  • Feeling bitter following a divorce and wanting a former partner out of your life
  • Being late to pick up or drop off the child

What is the process for resolving child contact issues?

If a parent believes the other parent poses a possible risk to the child, they can ask the court to intervene.

It is important to be aware that court proceedings can be very lengthy and expensive and should ultimately be used as a last resort. Speaking to a family solicitors can help parents properly consider their options.

If an application is made with the court, the court will consider the ‘welfare checklist’ when considering what is in a child’s best interests when deciding what to order.

This includes the child’s physical, emotional and educational needs, the harm the child is at risk of suffering, and the capabilities of each parent as a caregiver.

The court may also consider the child’s wishes and feelings, which are given appropriate weight based on their age and understanding.

What orders can the court make if an application is made?

The court has the power to make an order stopping a parent from seeing their child, or imposing conditions on contact such as (the below is not an exhaustive list):

  • Preventing overnight contact.
  • Limiting the duration of contact to certain hours or days.
  • Requiring contact to be supervised.
  • Limiting the nature of their contact to letters, emails, phone calls or video calls.

The court has the discretion to make any orders necessary to ensure any safeguarding concerns are alleviated, and the child’s welfare is prioritised.

What happens if the child refuses to see a parent?

This can be a difficult and emotional situation for both parents and needs to be navigated sensitively.

In these cases, it is important to seek legal advice given the advice will depend on the reason behind the child’s refusal.

Why choose Osbornes Law to protect your parental rights?

Our family law solicitors have been advising parents during divorce and separation for several decades. As child arrangement specialists, we have in-depth experience in representing parents in issues relating to children including how to tell children about divorce.

We take a non-confrontational approach wherever possible to help avoid the cost and stress of going to court. This could involve supporting you through mediation or the collaborative law process. Our family law professionals are members of Resolution, a community of family justice professionals committed to resolving family disputes without conflict.

If court action is necessary, we will give you strong representation to protect your rights and ensure the best outcome for your family. Our aim is to reach a fair and workable solution that promotes the relationship between you and your child so you both can move forward in a positive direction.

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