It’s not at all uncommon for parents to have at least some disagreements over the way their child should be raised. Even for two people who normally think alike on the big issues – politics, faith and so on – there are bound to be some principles on which they differ, and at least a few of these are likely to be issues of their child’s upbringing.
In many cases, the couple can find a compromise, or agree to disagree. Some kind of common ground is generally best if a child is to have a good and stress-free childhood – but sometimes that compromise is very hard to find. And when that happens, mediation with a third party of some kind might be necessary.
People often associate disputes over childcare with divorce or separation. However, this is not always valid, as parents may go to the point of legal action even in an otherwise stable marriage. When you decide to take action over the issue of your child’s welfare, this does not mean you should consider separating.
Disputes may concern all kinds of matters – for example
- where the child should go to school
- in which faith they should be raised
- more generally, what values should be instilled in them
- where in the country they should live
- whether they should live abroad
- whether a course of medical treatment should take place
- what the child should be called or whether their name should be changed.
These issues might come up among couples with different cultural backgrounds – or perhaps the issue is one that a parent encountered in their own childhood, and they would now want to emulate or avoid the same approach intheir own child’s upbringing.
When these disputes arise, we know that each parent has only their child’s wellbeing in mind. The difference is in how they think that wellbeing is best achieved so as to ensure a happy life and bright future for all concerned.
Sometimes, a decision must be made quickly, and there may be no time for mediation or drawn-out proceedings in court. In these cases, you may consider a Specific Issue application. This is an appeal to the Court to resolve a specific issue.
There is also the option of a ‘Prohibited Steps’ order, which would prevent one parent from taking a certain course of action. This may be a change of name or other change of circumstances.
Though these may be quite expedient ways to determine how a child will be brought up, they are not necessarily the best as the source of the conflict is not resolved. Mediation of some kind is always worth considering.