A Welsh man convicted of sexually abusing his children still has parental rights despite being in jail, the BBC has reported.
He recently tried to prevent the mother and children from taking a holiday in Menorca on the grounds that he had not given his permission. The mother has now launched a campaign to change the law so that parents convicted of sexual abuse are automatically stripped of such rights.
She told the BBC:
“When my husband was sentenced to more than 12 years in prison for sexually abusing our children, I thought he would be out of our lives for good. He was also put on the sex offenders register for life and banned from ever having any contact with our children.”
Retaining parental rights means the criminal father technically still has a say over the minutiae of the children’s lives as the schools they attend and their medical treatment – despite having no right to ever see them again.
The unnamed women explained that her plans for a summer holiday had nearly been thwarted when she received a letter from the father’s solicitor accusing her of planning to take “the children out of the country without seeking their father’s permission”.
The letter also demanded details of the trip, she reported, and even who she planned to go with.
“I felt completely distraught, but more than this, I felt it was a violation of the court order. He is not supposed to have any contact with the children, either direct or indirect, so why should he be allowed to know where we were going?”
They went ahead with the trip anyway but it was spoiled by the resulting undercurrent of stress and tension the mother reported.
Later, when the children wanted to change their surname “so they could disassociate from him”, he resisted, resulting in six month court struggle. She added:
“He has also blocked me from selling the family home that we owned together. His name is on the mortgage so I need his signature to sell it. And even though he will never be able to live in it again due to the crime prevention order, he still will not sign.”
The mother and children no longer live in the house “due to the fact the abuse took place there”, so they have taken out a second mortgage. The mother now has to pay both, relying on the help of family and friends to do so.
“…the financial impact on me has been devastating, I am not entitled to legal aid and have spent roughly £10,000 on court proceedings.”
The father’s continuing control over their children’s lives meant they had been unable to heal from their experiences, she insisted.
“His rights have continually trumped theirs and he has a level of control that is grotesque and horrifically unfair.”
She cannot afford to pursue further court action, she explained, and so cannot apply to have his parental rights removed.
“That’s why I have asked Welsh MPs to get involved. I want them to tell my story before Parliament, show how morally and ethically wrong this is and get some action on this.”