Court information for transsexual parents.
Prepared by Terry Reed
JP, BA (Hons), MCSP, SRP, GradDipPhys
This document provides information that is mainly designed to help trans parents who are experiencing difficulties in maintaining contact with their children and who are, therefore, seeking a Contact Order through the family court.
The first principle of the Children Act 1989 is that the child's welfare is paramount. It is usually regarded as in the child's best interests to have a relationship with both parents.
Divorce proceedings to end a marriage, or proceedings to end a Civil Partnership, are heard by a Judge in the County Court. Orders relating to the children of the marriage or Civil Partnership are usually dealt with at the same time. The County Court will usually keep jurisdiction in any case involving children, in respect of whom it has already made an Order. However, if no such Orders are made at that time, and disputes arise at a later date in relation to the children, these matters, as well as matters relating to the children of parents who are not in a legally recognised relationship, may be dealt with in either the County Court or the Magistrates' Court (Family Proceedings). The relevant legislation is contained in The Children Act 1989 (CA 1989).
The principle that the child's welfare is paramount has to be balanced against Article 8 of the Human Rights Act (HRA) which gives greater rights to parents. This was enacted on October 2nd 2000 and reflects European Human Rights legislation. Basically, UK law has to be interpreted, if at all possible, in such a way that it is compliant with European Law. If such an interpretation proves impossible, the government is under an obligation to change our law so that it is compliant. Article 8 of the Act states:
Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence. There shall be no interference by a public authority with the exercise of this right except such as is in accordance with the law and is necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security, public safety or the economic well being of the country, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others
Although this enhances the rights of trans parents, Article 8 is a ”Qualified Right“, not an ”Absolute Right“, therefore, it would be possible, for instance, for the legal representative of a hostile and uncomprehending mother, to use the argument that it was necessary ”for the protection of health or morals“ (of the child) to refuse contact with the natural father (trans woman). This would not be right or just, but you need aware that such arguments might be made, and be ready to counter them when they arise, possibly by bringing expert opinion to bear. This might be in order to outline the innate biological nature of the condition, which could be supported with a helpful NHS leaflet “Transgender Experiences“, and also to reassure the court regarding the effect, on a child, of having a trans parent.
- The most frequently sought Orders
- Standard of proof
- Who may be a party to a case?
- No order principle
- Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Services
- Meaning of Parental Responsibility (PR)
- Parental Responsibility Orders
- Effect of Gender Recognition Act on Parental Responsibility
- Special Guardianship Order (SGO)
- Welfare Check List (WCL)
- Contact Orders
- Proof of paternity
- Calling an ‘expert witness’
- Your statement or affidavit
- The court hearing
- Final Contact Order
- Justices' reasons
- Family Assistance Orders
- Residence Orders
- Public Family Law
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