Child is Left in Care of 13 Year Old: Can I Prevent It?
I recently split from my partner 6 months ago. We have a 16-month-old son together and I was present at the birth signing. She also has a 13-year-old daughter from previous relationship.
My concern is that she seems to think it's OK to leave the baby in her daughter's care as a babysitter until the early hours of the morning while she is out. I feel 13 is far too young to be left in charge of my baby son. What are my rights on this matter ?
When you have separated from your child’s mother it can be difficult to agree on parenting issues. As the father, you have legal responsibilities and rights to be involved in the raising of your child (see our article Your Separated Father's Rights). In general, if the child lives with your ex, then she has the say over the everyday decisions, while you should be allowed influence on major decisions. However, if you believe that you have legitimate concerns about the care of your child, you have every right to raise them.
There is no legal age in the UK for when a child can be left at home on their own or when they can babysit a sibling. The NSPCC guidelines say that a child should probably not be left home alone until they are 13. However, it depends on the child. The real issue is whether your child’s step-sister is responsible, capable and able to deal with any problems that may arise.
Being left until the early hours of the morning at that age, with a 16-month-old child to look after, is a lot of a responsibility. Only you know if you genuinely think that she is unable to deal with this.
The first thing that you need to do is try to sit down with your ex and discuss the issue. This is often easier said than done but you need to try to work together on important issues that affect your son. If she does not listen or share your concerns, the next step would be to try and Seek Mediation. This is when an independent mediator will help you both talk and try to reach an agreement.
Beyond this, if you still feel that your child’s safety is at risk, then you may want to take your concerns further. Before taking legal action or contacting any kind of official body, you should tell your ex about your intentions. You are both going to need to have a civil relationship with each other for the sake of your child, so taking it further should be a final resort. Ultimately, you need to put your son's welfare first and do what you think is right to protect him from harm.
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