South Wales Echo, 22nd June 2010
A SOUTH Wales family law firm has backed a council’s drive to support the rights of parents who do not live with their children.

Thea Hughes, of Cardiff-based Wendy Hopkins Family Law Practice, said a parent separated from their child was often wrongly denied the right to be consulted about major events in the child’s life.

Cardiff Council is writing to public bodies across Wales urging them to treat parents equally after the city’s deputy leader Neil McEvoy won support of full council for the action.

Ms Hughes said the council’s decision was encouraging and that many public bodies misunderstood the law.

She said: “If the law recognises that you have parental responsibility, then it makes no difference who the child is actually living with, you’re still entitled to be kept up to date on how they’re doing, and to have a say in any major decisions affecting the child’s life: health, choice of school, religion and so on.”

Mothers automatically have parental responsibility, while fathers only if married to the mother at the time the child was born or if the child was born after December 2003 and he is named on the birth certificate.

Ms Hughes added: “From talking to our own clients about the experiences they have had with schools, doctors’ surgeries and the like, there seems to be a common lack of understanding among service providers when it comes to the legal rights of someone with parental responsibility.”