I don’t know. We’ll have to ask mum…

Picture this scenario.  The parents have a child or children of school age.  When the parents separate, the children continue to live with one of the parents and they spend time with the other parent.  (We will assume, for this article that the children live with mother and spend time with father.  Of course, there is no legal presumption that this will be the case.)  Father wants to continue to be fully involved in the children’s lives, not just to spend weekend time with them.

Over time, unfortunately, mum and dad stop getting on so well.  They don’t really speak to each other, and dad realises that he has no idea how the children are getting on at school.  So he phones up the school, and asks for copies of the children’s school reports.

Some schools are well aware of what they should do.  But unfortunately, many dads are still met with the stalling response, “I don’t know.  We’ll have to ask mum.”  Or even, “I don’t know.  Do you have parental responsibility?”

What should dad do now, and what can he expect the school to do for him?

First of all, dad should note that he does not need to answer the question about parental responsibility.  (What this is, will be the subject of another article.)  The fact that he is the child’s biological dad is enough.

For the purposes of education law, a parent is defined to include all natural (biological) parents, whether or not they are or were married.  It also includes any person who is not a biological parent, but has parental responsibility, for example a guardian, step-parent or other relative.

The school must treat all parents equally.  So unless there is a Court Order preventing this, dad has a right to receive the annual school report, and to attend parents’ meetings.   Unless there is a Court order to stop him, he has the right to take part in decisions about his child’s education and to receive information about his child.

He does not have to ask mum for her permission.  He does not have to ask mum for a copy of the report, he should receive his own copy from the school.

If you have any other queries about how you can exercise your parental responsibility, please get in touch with Ruth Jackson on 01249 444300. 

Ruth Jackson, a barrister specialising in family law, has prepared a series of articles covering answers to some of the most common problems in family law.  We hope that these will help you with some of the common problems which barristers and solicitors see in practice. 

 Of course, there are limits to what we can do on a website.  We cannot give specific advice in such articles, and you should take your own legal advice before relying on what is written. 

 If you wish to consult us about your problem, we offer a free 30-minute, no obligation, appointment. Please get in touch with Ruth Jackson on 01249 444300. 

The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not constitute legal or professional advice. The law may have changed since this article was published. Readers should not act on the basis of the information included and should take appropriate professional advice upon their own particular circumstances.

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