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When parents can’t agree

PLEASE NOTE: Information in this article is correct at the time of publication, please contact DFA Law for current advice on older articles.

When parents can’t agree .

By Kelly Willmott

It is a simple fact that parents will not always see eye to eye on issues surrounding their child’s upbringing.

Such disagreements may be in relation to day to day things, such as disciplining a child, their diet or routine. When parents are separated, however, this can lead to a lack of consistency within households and arguments as to whose way is better.

What is likely to be more contentious, however, is when parents cannot agree on the ‘bigger things’. This may be deciding upon which school to send their child, a medical decision, whether they should be permitted to leave England and Wales for a holiday or in which religious rites they should participate.

Parents are always encouraged to try and resolve these disputes amicably and without the need for recourse to the courts. Parents may need to compromise and find a way to work together to resolve any issues that arise. If they simply cannot reach an agreement with regards to the bigger issues, however, an application to the court may be required.

Before any application can be issued, save in exceptional or urgent circumstances, parents will need to first attempt mediation. This will provide the opportunity to sit down with an independent mediator who will assist with negotiations.

If an application to the court is still needed, this will usually be for either a Prohibited Steps Order or Specific Issue Order;

This usually involves a narrow issue and the court will need to determine whether to grant permission for the particular course of action in question to be taken (i.e. to change a child’s name.)

  • Prohibited Steps Order (PSO)

This is an order that will prevent one party from using their parental responsibility in a certain way (i.e removing a child from the jurisdiction without the court’s permission).

When such a dispute arises, the court’s paramount consideration is that of the child’s welfare. As such, a Specific Issue Order or a Prohibited Steps Order will only be made if the court feel that it is in the child’s best interest to do so. Rushing into an application without properly considering the merits of doing so along with the likely chances of success is, therefore, not advisable.

Court proceedings can be costly and stressful, so before making any application with the court, legal advice should be always be obtained to make sure you have a case.

If you would like specialist legal advice on children matters, please do call DFA Law on 01604 609560 and we will be happy to help or email me

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