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Family Law

Transgender Parents and Contact Rights

On 30th January 2017, a High Court Judge denied a transgender parent direct contact with her five children.  The judge concluded there was a real chance of ‘the children and their mother being marginalised or excluded by the ultra-Orthodox community’ if there was direct contact.

The transgender parent started her application for contact with her children when she left the home in 2015. The former wife of the transgender parent argued through her legal team that the children would be ostracised by the Jewish community if they had contact with their transgender parent.  As a result of the judgement, the transgender parent will now only have limited contact to letters four times a year.

The judge in this case said: ‘I can see no way in which the children could escape the adult reaction to them enjoying anything like an ordinary relationship with their father.’ However, it is important to note that a change in a person’s gender does not affect their role as a father or mother to a child as per section 12 of the Gender Recognition Act 2004. In the case of J v C, Re C (Contact: Moratorium: Change of Gender) [2006], the emotional well-being of the children was a challenge for the family and Lord Justice Thorpe went further and said that the transgender parent was unwise to even make an application for contact.

Therefore, although transgender parents making applications for contact is few and far between, it does seem very unlikely that a judge would order that direct contact occur. However, if it is ordered it would be over a substantial period of time.  So, what is the best way forward to tell the children? The answer is expert assistance should be sought wherever possible such as such as therapeutic guidance, family mediation and the assistance of the wider family.

Nevertheless, contact between a parent and a child is recognised by the courts. Should you have any contact issues with your partner after separation, then you ideally must consider mediation unless there are issues of domestic violence.  If there is still no agreement, court proceedings may be issued.  Please contact our team at Rosewood Solicitors for any issues in relation to contact.

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