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Approximately 11 years ago I obtained an order for parental responsibility in respect of my daughter, Jessica, who is now aged 13.
I was never married to Jessica’s mother, and although we do not have a very comfortable ongoing relationship, I have always kept in touch with my daughter, seeing her every week, and I have an exceptionally good relationship with her. She has even spoken to me about moving into my home, rather than living full-time with her mother.
Jessica’s mother has never let me become fully involved in the decisions relating to Jessica’s life and, as she is getting older and beginning to consider her own future and her career, I am increasingly concerned about this. I have contacted the school and they have told me that I am, in fact, able to receive copies of her school reports, to go to the Parents Evenings and receive invitations to these in the normal way and to go to school events where parents are welcomed.
I have just told my daughter’s mother that I wish to become more involved in Jessica’s life and she has become exceptionally hostile and unpleasant about this.
Is this reasonable?
Jessica’s mother is behaving unreasonably in relation to your desire to become fully involved in your daughter’s life. Under Section 3(1) of the Children Act 1989 parental responsibility is defined as meaning “all the rights, duties, powers, responsibilities and authority which by law a parent of a child has in relation to the child and his property”. Where there is a dispute as to the arrangements for a child’s care, much emphasis may be put by parents upon the word “rights” within this definition, but this is unjustified and in fact the emphasis should be put by both you and Jessica’s mother on the notion not of parental rights, but of parental responsibilities. Both you and Jessica’s mother are entitled to be involved in decisions relating to her future. In short, Jessica’s mother is in breach of the law in taking the attitude that you should be only partially involved in your daughter’s life. This is quite simply not correct and, if Jessica’s mother will not relent, then you could take the matter further through the Court.