The question, can a mother stop a father from seeing a child UK is a complex one. In the UK, the responsibility of taking care of a child rests on the two parents. This is in the best interests of ensuring that the child is brought up in the most conducive conditions with access to both motherly and fatherly attention. A mother cannot, therefore, stop the father from seeing the child, according to UK law. Also, when the child is in the father’s custody, the mother cannot be prevented from making contact with him/her. Nonetheless, this is dependent on if such contact is likely to be detrimental to the wellbeing of the child. Suppose it is proven that a meeting of the father with the child will jeopardize his/her welfare, then such contact is not legally allowed. This also applies to the mother if the child is with the father.
Why a father can be stopped
One of the prevalent conundrums that separated mothers grapple with is identifying the grounds that can warrant preventing the father from meeting the child. There are many of these conditions, and all of them are linked to circumstances that put the wellbeing of the child at risk. Some of them include:
- Situations that expose the child to criminal activity
- Exposure to abuse and mistreatment
- Predisposal to drug and substance abuse
- Exposure to violence
- Conditions that limit the child’s access to rights such as education
If the mother can prove that these conditions are predominant, the court will bar contact of the father with the child. The ban will apply until all these circumstances have been fully resolved. Also, when there is a change in the circumstances, another determination can be made by the court. For instance, if it turns out that the mother has started being neglectful or abusive to the child, the father can be granted access to custody of the child.
If the above-listed circumstances are non-existent, then the mother cannot rebuff the father from meeting the child. This is because, under UK law, the relationship between the father and the mother is protected. Additionally, in the same way, that any parent has a right of making contact with his/her child, the child also has a right of meeting either parent. This is usually in the best interests of the child as such contact is imperative for positive growth.
Not Good Reasons of Preventing Contact
Sometimes, mothers give certain reasons to justify the denial of the father from meeting the child, which are not substantive. Some of them include the following:
1. Failure to pick or return a child on time.
Suppose a father delays in picking a child on a scheduled contact or in returning the child to the mother after being with him; it is unwarranted to deny further contact on such grounds. The law acknowledges that such delays may occur due to inevitable circumstances. Thus, they cannot be sufficient grounds for refusing subsequent contact.
2. Refusal to pay child support
If a father refuses or fails to pay child support, this is again not sufficient to deny him contact with his child. The UK law identifies that child maintenance is a separate matter from child contact. As such, the failure of the father to meet his child support obligations does not mean that he can be barred from seeing the child. The child has a legal right of meeting with both parents, and this also includes a father who does not contribute to child maintenance.
Options available to the court
The court in welfare determinations will rule in the best interests of the child. If the court identifies a potential risk or harm to the child, it will prevent the father from making contact. This can be via an order that gives a total ban of contact or presenting several options of contact. Such options include:
- Providing the duration of contact. The court can elaborate whether overnight contact is given or give the actual number of allowed hours of contact.
- Give the actual time of contact. This can be over the weekend, school holidays, during special occasions such as festivals etc.
- Providing the terms of contact. This includes clarifying whether contact is supervised or unsupervised. Also, the court can give a specific place of contact. Whether at home or at a designated place of contact
- Giving the type of contact. For example, the court can limit the contact to just sending letters and emails or allow direct physical contact of the father with the child.
When the father has an abusive partner
If the father has an abusive or violent partner, the mother can also prevent contact between the father’s partner and the child. This can be done by obtaining a prohibited steps order from the court. In this case, solicitors will help convince the court that having the child meet his father’s partner is detrimental to his/her welfare. If successful, the father’s partner will be prohibited from meeting the child.
When the child refuses to meet the father
The child can refuse to meet the father even when the mother has arranged for a meeting. In such a scenario, the mother should seek to understand why the child is reluctant on meeting the father. She should also inform the father of the reasons that the child gives. The conversation between the father and the mother should seek to address these concerns. This way, the father can make changes on the compelling reasons that make the child avoid him. Suppose the child still refuses to meet his father even after an intervention has been sought; the mother can seek legal counsel to prevent further meetings. Expert Family Lawyers London can assist the mother in convincing the court that continued contact of the child with the father is detrimental to his/her wellbeing.
In a nutshell, the UK law’s best interest is ensuring that the child’s welfare is upheld through proper parenting. According to UK law, the child has the right of meeting both parents. Also, both the father and the mother have a right to partaking in parenting. Therefore, a mother cannot prevent a father from meeting the child unless doing so predisposes the child to risks.
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Armen Andonian is the CEO of Solicitors Marketing, a London-based legal marketing agency. He is a legal content marketing expert who writes on UK individual immigration, business immigration, family law, finance, employment law and intellectual property. He has a passion for researching and communicating complex legal concepts and ideas in a clear and engaging manner and has developed a reputation as a highly skilled and versatile author on UK law-related issues. He has written for numerous publications, both online and offline, and his work has been featured in a variety of high-profile media outlets.