Disputes concerning a child

Disputes concerning the access to the child

The parents have equal rights of access to the child and involvement in the upbringing of the child. The parents should agree amongst themselves regarding the procedure of access to the child and the involvement in his or her upbringing. The father (mother) who lives together with the child should ensure the maximum access of the father or mother who does not live with the child to the child and the maximum opportunities to get involved in upbringing of the child. It is prohibited to interfere with the parents' access to the child, except where access to the child poses threat to the interests of the child. Interference with the access to the child is treated not only as violation of the right of one of the parents who lives separately but also as violation of the interests of the child.

As with all other matters related to child raising and upbringing, the matter of access to the child and involvement in upbringing of the child should be resolved by consensus between the parents. Should the parents fail to agree, the dispute concerning the access to the child and involvement in upbringing of the child shall be resolved by the court.

When the procedure of access to the child and involvement in upbringing of the child must be established

The general rule is that the procedure of access to the child and involvement in upbringing of the child shall be established by the court in cases where the parents fail to agree peacefully. For the most part, the procedure of access to the child by the parent who lives separately and involvement in the upbringing of the child is established when dealing with the matter of establishment of the habitual residence of the child. However, this matter can also be dealt with separately (for example, it may appear that the habitual residence of the child has been established by the previous court judgement or order, but the dispute regarding the procedure of access to the child arises later; in such a case, such the dispute shall be dealt with separately from the matter of establishment of the habitual residence of the child).


The following parties may plead in court regarding the procedure of access to the child and involvement in upbringing of the child:

• The father or mother of the child
• The parents (foster parents or guardians) of the legally incapacitated minor parents

The general provision regarding the procedure of access to the child and involvement in upbringing of the child established by the court

The court shall establish the procedure of access to the child by the father or mother who lives separately by taking into account the interests of the child and by making it possible for the father or mother who lives separately to get involved at the maximum level in upbringing of the child. The minimum access to the child can be established only in the case where it is proved that the maximum contact of the child with the parent harms the interests of the child. Access to the child could be considered to be harmful to the interests of the child when, for example, frequent meetings with another parent harm mental well-being of the child; the methods of upbringing of the child applied by another parent are contrary to the abilities of the child or the methods of upbringing applied by the father or mother who lives together with the child; there is a pernicious influence over maturity and ideology of the child; other cases.

The Supreme Court of Lithuania has pointed out that:

• there is no need to specify the way of access to the children when the court establishes the procedure of access to the child and involvement in upbringing of the child, i.e. how the parent of the child must behave in respect of the children, etc., because the law itself imperatively prescribes the framework for this and this is binding for the parents without the court judgement;  

• the approval of the procedure of communication of the child with the parent, providing for the mandatory participation of the mother or father in the meetings with the child, may imply restriction of the maximum involvement of the parent who lives separately in upbringing of the child; however, such the restriction is possible only when this harms the interests of the child.  

The right of access to information of the parent who lives separately

The father or mother who lives separately from the child shall have the right to receive information about the child from all educational, training, healthcare, child rights protection and other authorities and institutions the child is involved with. The authorities and institutions may only refuse to provide information if the health or life of the child is under threat from the father or mother, also in cases provided by law. An appeal may be brought before the court against the refusal of authorities, organisations and other institutions and natural persons to provide the parents with information about their children.

The parental right to see the child is implemented when the child resides together with one of the parents in the country which is different from the country in which another parent resides

It is recommended that the parents agree by the mutual agreement before moving to another country regarding the procedure of communication between the child and parent who lives separately from the child. Such the procedure could include such matters as, for example, father maintaining relation with the child (by phone, Internet), including establishment of the intensity and duration of such communication. The parents could also discuss the possibility of child spending vacation with another parent.

If the procedure of access to the children has not been established, the parent who lives separately from the child may plead in court regarding establishment of such procedure or may bring a request before the court regarding the right to see the child under the 1980 Hague Convention.

The right of access to the child of the parents who live separately from the child and to get involved in upbringing of the child is the parental right of personal nature and can be implemented when another parent does not interfere with such communication and the communication itself is direct and continuous. The implementation of such right also means the implementation of the statutory parental right of access to the child and involvement in his or her upbringing. This personal parental right and duty must be exercised only in the best interests of the child. Parental involvement in child's upbringing is essential for full development of the child. Granting the father or mother with the opportunity of having access to the child is the responsibility of the parent with whom the child lives (the Ruling of the Supreme Court of Lithuania of 24 April 2002 in the civil case No 3K-3-650/2002).

 

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