Law Articles

Parental Responsibility 09/08/2013

In Re: M (PARENTAL RESPONSIBILITY ORDER) 2013 the unmarried mother and father separated when the child was 5. The father removed the child from school without informing the mother and avoided contact. When the police eventually tracked him down, he returned the child to school. The mother sought a Residence Order and resisted contact between the father and child. The father provided undertakings and thereafter for 2 years he had supervised contact with the child.

The father later applied for Parental Responsibility and direct contact. The mother and child opposed direct contact and the grant of parental responsibility. The judge held that, although the father had demonstrated his commitment to the child, he was more concerned with his own rights and needs and would misuse the order to exercise control over the mother and child. The judge refused the father's application but made orders for indirect contact and a s.91 (14) Order for 2 years.

The father was granted permission to appeal but his appeal was dismissed. Refusing a father parental responsibility is actually quite rare. In this case, having regard to the father's behaviour, the mother's vulnerabilities and the child's wishes, the Judge decided it would be detrimental to the child's welfare to allow the father to exercise even limited parental responsibility. The judge had taken into account the child's wishes and feelings and accepted the Guardian's evidence that the child needed to be free from the burden of litigation.

For further information and advice on this issue, and other family law issues, please contact us for a free initial consultation on 01992 306 616 or 0207 956 2740 or email us.

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