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Which parent has Parental Responsibility post Separation?

The Daily Mail today reports on research undertaken by marriage guidance and counselling service, Relate in respect of differing attitudes between parents as to their roles in the lives of their children post separation.

Yesterday, we discussed in our blog research released recently demonstrating the difference between the perceptions of parents and children following a family breakdown. The research released today confirms that all too often, the perceptions of the couple themselves also differ significantly.

The figures obtained by the Relate survey suggest that 1 in 3 mothers believe they should have full ‘custody’ of the children after a separation, and be able to make all decisions in respect of them, to the exclusion of the father, as against 85% of fathers who believe they should retain a say in key aspects of the child’s upbringing.

The law in respect of decision making is clear, in that when both parents have Parental Responsibility, they have equal rights and duties in the eyes of the law, and neither has greater decision making powers than the other, regardless of whether the child spends longer in the care of one than the other. There is a duty of information and consultation between all those with Parental Responsibility, and decisions made in breach of that duty, and without relevant concern can be overturned by the Court if necessary.

A parenting plan or agreement at an early stage of a separation can help parents decide what matters they will discuss, when and how and which decisions they will make separately, and which jointly. Mediation is available for children matters and can often prove helpful for difficult decisions which cannot be agreed directly, but for which litigation would seem rather extreme. Some mediation services also offer child consultation mediation, where the mediator can speak to the child and feed his/her views back to the parents in order that they can take those views into account when making decisions.

Anyone who is unclear as to the scope of their decision-making rights, and what they are or are not entitled to do can easily obtain clear clarification from a good Children Law expert.

By Family Law Solicitor Cara Nuttall

For a free initial consultation call our Family Law Solicitors on freephone 0800 916 9055 or contact us online.


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