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parental responsibility when contact is minimal

  • michelle74
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10 Jul 18 #502693 by michelle74
Topic started by michelle74
can someone please help me?

I have been separated from my sons father for over 10 years, we were never married but he has parental responsibility.
He was and still is a very controlling and manipulative person.

Over the years the access arrangements, which were every weekend have chopped and changed and dwindled down to every other weekend because "he needed a life" and the arrangements have only ever been to suit his lifestyle and job. I have actually lost a job in the past because of these changes.
I was happy with the current arrangements apart from a few certain aspects and I need someone to advise me as to what i can and cant do about it. There has never been any formal written agreement over access or maintenance.

Firstly, the every other weekend 'i need a life' debacle has now become a marriage for him, which i have no issue with however i am forbidden from meeting his wife, dropping or collecting my son from their home, speaking to her etc, I have on numerous occasions offered to have them over for tea to show a common bond to my son (who is now 13) and to meet my partner etc but it is always met with hostility. I have asked why and am always told she is non of my business and doesn't want to meet me. i have emphasised the fact that surely I have a right to know the person who is in the company of my child and I am told, in no uncertain terms to keep my nose out of his business.
Am i wrong to ask to meet his wife?

Secondly i have made my feeling very clear to my sons father about not wanting our son to have a shaved head haircut. For a start, my son doesn't like it and it is against school regulations and also because i think he looks like a thug and don't like it either. The local barber we frequently use uses clippers around the sides, he asks for it to remain semi long on the top and brushed to one side. very neat. not like the bald buzz cut his father insists on taking him for, even though i ask him not to. i have mentioned this on several occasions to him when he has returned our son with a shaved head and i have had an apology once and was told it wouldn't happen again. It has happened again this weekend.

I am at a loss as to how i can stop this from happening. My son is afraid of saying no to his dad and i don't want to put him in a position where he has to. do i even have a say?

Can my son, at 13 now make the decisions about what happens on his dads weekend regarding haircuts or even whether he wants to go or not (sometimes he doesn't want to)

what rights and decisions exactly does parental responsibility give a father who has minimal contact and is not the primary care giver?

i really don't want a massive legal battle but i don't trust anything my sons father says so would prefer to have some agreement in place but am really unsure what i can and cant stipulate.

any help is appreciated

  • .Sylvia
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11 Jul 18 #502701 by .Sylvia
Reply from .Sylvia

what rights and decisions exactly does parental responsibility give a father who has minimal contact and is not the primary care giver?

Exactly the same as anyone else with PR - PR is not on a sliding scale, dependent on how much time a parent spends with a child.

surely I have a right to know the person who is in the company of my child

You don't - unless there is a safeguarding issue. Your child has two parents, and as your ex has PR, he is able to make decisions about whom your child spends time with during his parenting time.

You are making the classic mistake of expecting someone unreasonable to behave as you would - reasonably.

How often are the shaved haircuts happening? Your son does need to learn to tell the barber that he doesn't want that particular "style" - I appreciate he doesn't wish to upset his father and cause ructions, but it is his hair, and he should have a say in how it is cut. If the school complain to you, then tell them to complain to the father as it is him who is imposing this particular cut on your son. At 13 does he need accompanying to the barber? Could he not be there on his own, while Dad does something else? Pitch it as giving your son some independence, and helping him gain confidence.

Can my son, at 13 now make the decisions about what happens on his dads weekend regarding haircuts or even whether he wants to go or not (sometimes he doesn't want to)

- see above for haircuts. There are lots of things children don't want to do, but ahve to - going to school eating fruit and veg, homework, tidying their rooms, etc. If he refused, would you say "Ok, you don't have to go to school"? His views should be taken into consideration, but your role is to support his relationship with his Dad. (that is NOT the same as supporting Dad's relationship with your son).

I understand your frustrations, but there are some battles that are not worth the fight. His hair will grow back, and he will eventually not need chaperoning to the barbers. You can't control your ex's behaviour, but you can control how you react to them. If he gets a reaction when he presses your buttons, he will keep doing so - until you stop reacting.

This info about Parental Responsibility might be of help to you:

PR is simply the ‘right’ to be a parent. It enables you to be treated in law as your child’s parent, and gives you the authority to be involved in decisions regarding your child. PR only applies once a child has been born and does not apply while the child is in utero.

According to the Children Act 1989 PR is ‘all the rights, duties, powers, responsibilities and authority which by law a parent of a child has in relation to a child and his property’; these include:

· Providing a home for the child;

· Having contact with the child;

· Protecting and maintaining the child;

· Disciplining the child;

· Determining and providing the child’s education;

· Determining the religion of the child;

· Consenting to the child’s medical treatment;

· Naming the child or agreeing to the child’s change of name;

· Consenting to the child’s marriage (if between 16 and 18);

· Agreeing to the child’s adoption;

· Vetoing the issue of the child’s passport;

· Taking the child outside the jurisdiction of the UK and consenting to the child’s emigration;

· Administering the child’s property;

· Representing the child in legal proceedings;

· Appointing a guardian for the child;

· Burying or cremating the child’s corpse;

· Allowing the child to be interviewed;

· Allowing the child to have blood taken;

· Allowing confidential information relating to the child to be disclosed.

Mr Justice Wall (as he then was) provided a useful pocket guide to parental responsibility in a footnote to his judgement on A v A [2004] EWHC 142 (Fam). It is really important to understand this; abuse of these principles leads to endless misery and unnecessary litigation.

1. Decisions either parent can take independently of the other without consultation or notification:

· How the children are to spend their time during contact periods;

· Personal care for the children;

· Activities undertaken;

· Religious and spiritual activities;

· Continuing to take medicine prescribed by a GP.

2. Decisions either parent can take independently but of which they must inform the other:

· Medical treatment in an emergency;

· Visits to a GP and the reasons for them;

· Booking holidays or taking the child abroad during contact time.

3. Decisions which must only be taken following consultation:

· Selecting a school and applying for admissions;

· Contact rotas during school holidays;

· Planned medical and dental treatment;

· Stopping medication prescribed by a GP;

· Attendance at school functions (so the parents may avoid meeting each other wherever possible);

· Age at which children are allowed to watch age-restricted DVDs and video games.

If you have Parental Responsibility for your child you have the same rights over that child as the other parent, even if he or she has residence and you do not. This is a fact of which many parents, teachers, doctors and others seem unaware, so you must assert it. In Re G (A Child) [2008] EWCA 1468 Lord Justice Ward affirmed,

A Residence Order gives the mother no added right over and above the father. That is the lesson that has not yet been fully learned in the 19 years that the Act has been on the statute book. The Residence Order does no more than its definition allows.

  • michelle74
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11 Jul 18 #502706 by michelle74
Reply from michelle74
Thank you so much for your reply. Its good to have a factual and non judgemental answer. i really appreciate it

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