Parental Responsibility: What If Parents Can’t Agree?

Childcare News Rights & Responsibilities | by | 13th Jun 2016

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Parental Responsibility (PR) is further explored in this guest article by Paul from FNF Both Parents Matter Cymru.

What is Parental Responsibilty? Read Paul’s first article here.

What if parents can’t agree about Parental Responsibility?

Sometimes people who have PR for a child can’t agree on what should happen.

There was an important court case (A vs A [2004] EWHC 124 Fam) between two parents that decided what you can and can’t do if you have PR. It’s a really good idea to read these principles because if disputes ended up in court, this judgement is likely to be taken into consideration.

It said that one person with PR can do some things without notifying or agreeing that with anyone else, but lots of important decisions (like medical treatment, choice of schools etc) need to be discussed and if possible agreed with everyone who has PR for a child. You can read the important part of the judgement (paragraph 133) here on FNF Both Parents Matter Cymru’s homepage under Parental Responsibility.

Bouncing Kids for Parental Responsibility article

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Schools and Parental Responsibility

Most teachers are very happy to work with parents and others who care about the children at their school. The Welsh Government produced guidance in 2007 called Parents & Parental Responsibility which is still in force today. The guidance says that schools should work with everyone who cares for the child, although there are some restrictions on what information they can share.

If you are facing a problem dealing with a school about PR we think it would be helpful to share the Welsh Government guidance with them and see if that solves the issue.

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What about the child’s own rights?

In Wales we are rightly proud that Children’s Rights have been made part of the law through two important pieces of legislation The Rights of Children and Young Persons (Wales) Measure 2011 and the Social Services & Well-being (Wales) Act 2014.

These laws help children to have their own protection mainly through the rights set out in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. That doesn’t mean that parents and others with PR don’t have a role in making decisions about children’s lives. Many of the Articles of the UNCRC actually support the powers and duties of parents recognising their important role in supporting children. It even places a duty on Welsh Government to work with and support both parents (Article 18).

Sometimes however some older children will want to do something (or not do something) that parents might disagree with. These sorts of disputes may need to be sorted out by the courts. An important test in making these sorts of decisions is something called Gillick Competence, which is most often an issue in medical consent matters.

In a court case it was decided that “parental rights were recognised by the law so long as they were needed for the protection of the child and such rights yielded to the child’s right to make his own decisions when he reached a sufficient understanding and intelligence to be capable of making up his own mind.”

There’s a useful guide on PR and medical matters here.

Getting Parental Responsibility if you don’t have it already

If you don’t have it there are ways to get PR. Most of them involve some sort of agreement with someone, such as the mum, who already has PR for a child. The ways of getting PR can be found here.

More help with Parental Responsibility

You may need some specialist help if there are struggling with issues around PR. You can obtain free one to one legal advice at any of the Law Works Legal Advice clinics run by the charity FNF Both Parents Matter Cymru. Click here for a list of locations and dates of a meeting near you.

If you’d like to find out about services available to you and your child in your area or would like to chat about family matters in general, get in touch with the FamilyPoint Cymru helpline.

  • Phone: 0300 222 57 57
  • Text: 07860 052 905
  • Instant message (see top of page)

We are open 6pm – 10pm Monday to Thursday and 10am – 2pm Friday & Saturday.

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