Can I take my parents to court to settle a dispute?

If you and your parents cannot reach an agreement about an important matter you can ask the Court to allow you to take a case.

A Specific Issue Order is a court order that deals with any specific matter related to Parental Responsibility. If you disagree with how your parent is exercising Parental Responsibility and preventing you from doing something or making you do something you don’t want to do, then it is possible to ask a court to decide what is best for you.

In order to take such a case, the court must be satisfied that you have sufficient understanding to take the case.

What if I disagree with decisions my parents make that affect my life?

Parents should always make decisions based on what is in your best interests. Sometimes you may feel that decisions your parents make are not what you want and you feel it is not in your best interests. You should be able to discuss the decision with your parents and your parents should listen to what you want.

Can I make decisions for myself without asking my parents?

In some important areas such as accessing advice about sexual health or contraception it is possible for you to receive confidential help and support. The health professional who is helping you will have to be satisfied that you are mature enough to understand all the implications. This is sometimes referred to as being ‘Gillick’ competent.

‘Gillick’ was a landmark UK legal case about whether or not a young person under 16 could receive contraceptives if they consented themselves to receiving them rather than their parents. The Courts decided that a young person with sufficient understanding (mature enough) about contraception or other matters could indeed consent in their own right.

Will I get to have a say in decisions being made during mediation?

Your voice is of extreme importance to family mediators. In general, the needs and wishes of very young children are brought into the process by parents. If you are mature enough you may be able to speak directly with a mediator to let them know your wishes and feelings.

If my parents separate, can I choose who I live with?

When parents separate it can be a very difficult time for everyone in the family. Parents should always do what is best for their children and this includes deciding which parent the children should live with and maintaining good relations between children and the parent they don’t live with.

Your wishes and feelings should be considered when these decisions are being made. As a teenager your wishes and feelings should carry a lot of weight and if parents can’t agree on things and a court is asked to decide, the court will always have your wishes and feelings as the first thing they consider.

Older teenagers should be able to decide for themselves which parent they live with and how much they see of the other parent. It’s important that children maintain a meaningful relationship with both their parents.