Can the law force parents to step up?

Rebecca Higgins Blog

We get many enquiries from parents who are frustrated that the other parent does not take an active interest in their children, and want to know if there is anything that can be done about this through the Courts. Unfortunately the short answer is no, the Court cannot force another parent to see their children more. They cannot force the other parent to take attend parent’s evening, to take care of the children when the resident parent is ill, or force them to see the children when they do not wish to. The Family Court has the power to order contact stops – it cannot force contact to take place.

Whilst this is understandably very frustrating for the resident parent, the best way to try and move forward is to open communication between the parties. Forcing the other parent is not an option, but by communicating clearly with them an agreement may be possible.

Mediation is a prefect forum for this to take place – each parent can share their own views and what they believe their role is in the child’s life. Steps can then be taken to ‘bridge the gap’ and try to encourage the other parent to be more involved in the children’s lives, rather than attempting to ‘force’ this or feeling like it is being ‘imposed’ upon them by their ex-partner. It can also help the resident parent understand that, whilst they no-doubt have only the best interests of their children at heart, the other parent may have a different parenting style to them, and so the children may have different routines, meals or outings when in that other parent’s care. This type of communication may be challenging for parents to have without a 3rd party to facilitate the discussion, so mediation could be the key to unlocking a more harmonious co-parenting relationship, if both parents are willing.

If you would like more information about our mediation services please call our Harrogate office on 01423 637 272 or our Liversedge office on 01274 861 096. You can also fill out our contact form here.