Parental rights – do I have any?
Under the Family Law Act 1975, parents have responsibilities and obligations rather than parental rights.
It is children who have rights.
Those rights are to know, be cared for and spend time with both their parents, unless this would be contrary to their best interests. They also have a right to be protected from harm.
Generally children’s best interests are met by having a relationship and spending time with both parents and extended families, provided there are no risks to their physical, mental or emotional wellbeing in doing so.
Despite being the parties who have all the rights, the children don’t have a right to choose whether they have a relationship and spend time with either of their parents or extended families until they turn 18 and are no longer “children”.
This does not mean that children do not have a “voice” in a parental dispute that needs to be resolved by a court. Their wishes are given due weight, but they do not dictate the outcome. Their wishes are just one of many factors weighed and balanced by the family law courts in determining whether it is in that particular child’s best interests to have a relationship with and spend time with a particular parent where this is in dispute between parents (or grandparents).
The risk to a parent who refuses to exercise parental control and authority and direct their child to spend time with the other parent is the court placing the child with the other parent if that other parent is prepared to exercise their parental control and authority and direct their child to spend time with the other parent.
In some cases, the courts have gone so far as to prevent a parent having any contact with a child for 6 months so that they can adjust to living with the other parent without interference or influence of the other parent.
This is a devastating but real outcome in cases where children are apparently rejecting the other parent.
If you need advice about your family law situation, contact us a Freedom Law today for a no-obligation free consultation.
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