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Control of parental responsibility for a child at Court

Control of parental responsibility for a child at Court . Children should not be used as weapons or play things when there parents disagree. Today the Courts seek to acknowledge the equality of parents, a good thing, in most cases. A parent lacking goodwill can use his or her parental responsibility to undermine the position of the other parent, often without thinking of the potential it may have for undermining the welfare of the child. A desire by one parent to hurt the other by taking a child from school without agreement, for example, may be perfectly legal but is  still a cause of distress for the child expecting to go home. The intended victim, the other parent, can take action at Court to help prevent the child becoming collateral damage in the adult dispute.

Michael Brennan, a specialist family law solicitor at Stonehewer Moss in Northwich, Cheshire, says:” Although current trends emphasise the rights of parents, acknowledging equality, may help in most contexts of a parenting arrangement it is important not to lose sight of the welfare principle that is paramount if the Court must decide between parents in a dispute. The welfare of the child comes first, before the rights of either parent. A parent acting unilaterally can have their parental responsibility controlled by making a prohibited steps order. I was made aware at a recent domestic violence awareness course by Cheshire West Council attended by a number of head teachers that senior teachers often feel powerless if a parent demands to take a child. I have obtained many prohibited steps orders on an urgent basis that, for example, prevent a named parent from attending at the school between stated hours or removing the child from the care of the school. A civil non molestation order may achieve the same end.”

As most people get their legal knowledge second hand through the internet, it is worth considering a letter from a solicitor setting out the boundaries of what is acceptable or agreeing a parenting agreement about such issues. Michael points out such steps are not binding but may assist to focus on the impact a dispute may have on the welfare of the child.

A parent that will not listen may equally be demanding his or her rights in ways that make you feel intimidated in your home. A letter from a solicitor could pre warn that such behaviour could result in legal costs against the other parent if it is necessary to apply to the court for a non molestation order or occupation order. The police now have a range of powers to deal with domestic violence but Michael points out the police service should not be abused by seeking to use it as a cheap alternative to a solicitor or Court order; the impact on relations in the future as co parents can be harmed by the methods used to resolve a dispute.

For more information, advice, negotiation or representation at court about children contact Stonehewer Moss on 01606872200 e mail  visit

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