This can be an area of never ending dispute. Something that should be a pleasure turns into a battle. When parents separate some find it hard to accept that the other parent – who has different parenting values, skills and attitudes, has a say in their child’s upbringing.
Couples who stay together argue over their differing parenting styles so this can become so much more acute when they are no longer a unit. The battle can be over winning – proving that they are right and they lose touch with the fact that a child is in the middle, suffering.
Here’s what happens:
- Mum wants to know every detail of who is travelling, where they are staying etc. but thinks nothing of moving her new boyfriend into her home without dad being told anything about him.
- Mum refuses to release the passport.
- Mum refuses to allow the child to go skiing with dad.
- Mum considers it is her right to veto what dad chooses to do.
- Dad refuses to allow a change in the contact order (child care arrangements order since April 2014) so that mum can take the children to Disneyland for 2 weeks.
- Dad refuses to allow the children to miss school and this is the only time mum can afford to go.
This is about the child’s life. In every case, if asked, the child would respond:
“I want to go and I don’t want to be in the middle and I don’t want my parents to fight. It’s all my fault – if I had not been born they would not be fighting”.
If the parents cannot agree there is only one solution – an emergency Court Application. This can be effective and Judges are well used to dealing with such disputes. The Government likes people to mediate – particularly in Children Act Applications. Sometimes there is not time to mediate. Sometimes the other party can deliberately delay matters with no intention of mediating. Whatever the circumstances a Court Application can be made quickly if appropriate. Each case is decided on its own facts and the overriding principle is what is in the child’s best interest. Where parents views differ sometimes a judge is needed to decide.